Most fine prints that were acquired by the Library of Congress during the 19th century through about the 1960s and 1970s were incorporated into the Fine Print filing series for which an on-site card catalog remains the most comprehensive access tool. This portion of the collection is arranged by century (typically the artist's most active period of production), artist surname, and title listed either alphabetically or by oeuvre catalogue number. Sample call number: FP - XIX - C343, no. 156 (A size) for The Banjo Lesson by Mary Cassatt
Prints acquired after about 1970 may have a call number beginning with PR 13, reflecting the year in which the material was acquired. Advance arrangements are needed to view items with call numbers beginning with PR 13 (see Looking at Prints in the Reading Room--PR 13 (unprocessed) prints, below).
The most effective ways to find artist prints, both in the Fine Print filing series and beyond, include searching by artist name, artwork title, collection name (e.g. studio, workshop, publisher, donor), and/or call number or reproduction number. Subject indexing is currently limited and typically focuses on key features in the images themselves, categories such as portraits or landscapes, and such techniques as engraving or lithography, etc.
Currently, about 12,500 works in the Fine Print filing series alone have searchable online records, sometimes accompanied by a digital image. Some images display only at small thumbnail size for those searching from outside Library of Congress buildings because of rights considerations.
As not all items in the Fine Print filing series are cataloged online, additional tools provide or enhance access to the prints and to more recently acquired prints.
Currently, this provides the most comprehensive access to prints in the Fine Print Filing series. The catalog is arranged by the century in which the artist flourished, and thereunder by artist name (see details about how the call numbers are expressed in Introduction above). An additional section of the catalog provides access to selected artists and works organized by country.
Catalogue raisonnés describe the work of particular artists and, in some cases, have been used to organize works by artists described in the Fine Print filing series card catalog. Check the Library of Congress Online Catalog and the Prints & Photographs Division's Reference Collection card catalog for holdings of catalogue raisonnés.
Container lists itemizing individual prints are sometimes made as a collection is received or pre-processing occurs for works acquired from individual sources, in recent decades, and/or cohesive collections, e.g., Hand Print Workshop International
For information about additional tools and recently acquired, unprocessed groups of prints, see the broad overview, Fine Print Collections in the Library of Congress--Searching and Viewing.
Researchers who are able to visit on site may request to view prints by submitting a call slip in the reading room. We generally request that for prints already digitized at high resolution, researchers first look at the highest resolution file (tiff file) to gain as much visual information as possible, before requesting to view an original, as retrieving and refiling fragile prints puts added wear and tear on them. Please contact us in advance if you want to see more than 15 prints on a single day.
For items with call numbers that begin with "PR 13" rather than "FP," request information or an appointment in advance by filling out an Access to Unprocessed Collections form.