Architecture, Design and Engineering Collections in the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division
This guide describes collections that support research on the built environment, primarily in the United States, from the 1600s to the present. It offers links to digital content and related resources.
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Mari Nakahara, Curator of Architecture, Design, and Engineering, Prints & Photographs Division
Created: May 2020
Last Updated: December 2021
The Prints & Photographs Division (P&P) has more than 140 collections that support the study of architecture, design, and engineering (ADE) through a vast array of original and often unique graphic and photographic documentation. Our special strength is the history and development of American architecture, engineering works, public monuments, and sculpture from the 1600s to the present day. To a lesser degree, we have remarkable original drawings and photographs for urban planning, interior design, and industrial design. For buildings and monuments outside of the United States, you will find primarily photos from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s and designs by American architects for buildings constructed in other countries.
This research guide aims to make you aware of the full range of ADE collections in P&P, whether they feature professionally designed or vernacular structures. We have included all major collections but not all of the smaller collections. When you need to check comprehensively for an architect, building, or other ADE-related topic, please contact us through the Ask A Librarian service.
With more than four million items in these collections, a single alphabetical list could be overwhelming. Instead, we have grouped the entries into five categories: Primary Archives; Selected Projects; Thematic Collections; Photographer Archives; and Other Collections. We hope that this arrangement can encourage you to browse through the entries and discover material of interest through serendipity as well as name recognition. While the ADE collections focus on architecture, design, and engineering, please keep in mind that they can also inform research in such other subject areas as American History; Decorative Arts; Fine Arts; Science, Technology, and Business; and Local History and Genealogy.
The Searching and Viewing section of the guide has valuable advice about how to find collections based on such different interests as researching a specific building, the design creators, types of structures and building materials, geographic areas, time periods, and physical or digital media.
The Related Resources section of the guide provides useful information about architecture, design, and engineering books and electronic resources in the Library’s General Collection and Special Collection Divisions. Researchers are advised, depending on their needs, to contact multiple divisions for guidance on accessing these materials. Books, periodicals, dissertations and theses, articles and blogs, and webcasts related to specific collection are listed along with each collection.
The guide includes a Time Period Index to make it easier to locate collections relevant for particular historical eras.