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Illustrated English Language Periodicals in the Library of Congress

This guide highlights illustrated magazines and newspapers mostly in the Prints & Photographs Division that depict news events and trends, especially in the 19th century. Included are sample images, search tips and pointers to related materials.


How illustrated newspapers are made. 1856. Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, v. 2, 1856 Aug. 2, p. 124. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Newspapers and magazines can be a good source of pictures from the era before photographs could be efficiently reproduced in print publications. Periodical illustration flourished from the mid-1800s onwards. Illustrations primarily took the form of black-and-white wood engravings and, later, color lithographs.

The Prints & Photographs Division (P&P) holds partial runs of some of the best-known products of the English-language pictorial press. Note: The volumes in P&P are very fragile. In order to reduce repeat handling, the original volumes are used primarily for enabling Library of Congress Duplication Services to make high quality copies after relevant pictures have been identified through use of electronic databases or microfilm. This guide offers information on electronic and microfilm resources for each title.

In addition to the periodical volumes, images selectively clipped from the periodicals prior to their acquisition by P&P can be found in the division's collections, primarily in the Biographical File and LOTs (groups of images).

Original drawings for images subsequently engraved for publication in the pages of the periodical press can be found in other P&P collections, particularly the Documentary Drawings and Cabinet of American Illustration. See the Related Resources page for descriptions and links to resources about those collections.

Illustrated periodicals also flourished outside the English-speaking world. For a list of pictorial newspapers published outside of Great Britain, see Mason Jackson's, Pictorial Press: Its Origin and Progress (full citation and link to online version in the Related Resources page, Published Sources tab).