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Photographs are not just illustrations, they are historic records that are an essential part of reasonably exhaustive research.
In addition to a spectrum of photographic materials, ranging from early daguerreotypes to modern born-digital images, the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division also holds architectural drawings, promotional posters, and much more that may pertain to the history of a building or community.
Street scenes, birds-eye-views, parades, disasters, family portraits, and other featured subjects may capture the structure you are researching and the property where it once stood or would later stand.
Explore archives at every level (local, state, federal) and seek out private family or local history collections that may include the address or location you are studying.
Search the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) to find catalog records and digital images representing a rich cross-section of still pictures held by the Prints & Photographs Division and, in some cases, other units of the Library of Congress.
Although the catalog is added to on a regular basis, it is not an exhaustive listing of the holdings of the Prints & Photographs Division, which consist of more than 14 million items. Paper finding aids, card catalogs, and browsing files of pictures available on-site supplement descriptions in PPOC.
The Library of Congress Digital Collections contain a wide variety of photographic materials. A selection of these resources is provided below with links to the home pages for each relevant archive. You can also explore the complete list of Digital Collections to find even more and see the latest additions.
In the digital age, it is easier than ever for photographs to be shared online. You may discover that the family, neighbors, or repositories you are reaching out to have posted some or all of their holdings to public web sites.
The subscription resources marked with a padlock are restricted and only available to researchers on-site at the Library of Congress. If you are unable to visit the Library, you may be able to access these resources through your local public or academic library.
SAH Archipedia will grow in the coming years, as other published BUS books are digitized (including Delaware, Louisiana, and Hawaii), as current BUS volumes are completed (Texas: Central, South, and Gulf Coast Vermont Virginia: The Valley and Southwest North Dakota Wisconsin Missouri Mississippi New Hampshire Texas: East, North, and West and Arkansas among them), and as peer-reviewed, born-digital content is created. While the immediate goal is to have all fifty states represented in SAH Archipedia, U.S. content is only the beginning. The authors envision SAH Archipedia to become a comprehensive resource for information on buildings from across the globe.
Library of Congress curators and specialists have created research guides that highlight the many diverse and useful image collections available to researchers. Below are selected highlights, you can also study the complete list of Prints & Photographs Division research guides for even more ideas.