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Illustrated English Language Periodicals in the Library of Congress

Periodical Titles & Sample Images

This guide lists the major 19th century English language pictorial periodicals for which there are substantial holdings in the Library of Congress, primarily in the Prints & Photographs Division (P&P). The titles are listed with facts about each publication. Below the list of titles is a summary of subject matter typically represented in the publications, followed by a sampling of images that have been copied from Library of Congress issues.

Listed below in rough chronological order are illustrated English language periodicals held by the Prints & Photographs Division and selected general interest pictorial periodicals in other parts of the Library of Congress. Each entry links to a search result for images from that title represented by descriptions and digital images in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC). Most digital images have been copied from Library of Congress holdings in response to duplication requests. The entries also include information about access to the full contents of the periodical through electronic databases or microfilm. Keep in mind that microfilm and electronic databases often provide bitonal, black-and-white reproductions; color or tonality in the pictures, if there is any, will not be fully reproduced in microfilm and electronic databases.

Periodical titles

Image Subjects & Sample Images

Particularly until photographs could be efficiently reproduced in magazines and newspapers illustrations made through a variety of processes, including woodcut, steel engraving, and lithograph were the principal means of depicting events of the day. By the late nineteenth century, publications began using halftone photomechanical reproductions. The pictorial press offered visual coverage of:

  • disasters, financial panics, labor strikes, and wars (the U.S. Civil War, in particular, received regular treatment in the pages of Harper's Weekly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper)
  • new technological developments and inventions
  • major social gatherings and sports matches
  • social circumstances such as poverty and immigration
  • celebrities, including politicians, military leaders, and people prominent in the arts
  • places notable for their scenic qualities or their architectural or industrial significance
  • fashion trends (entire publications such as Godey's Lady's Book were also devoted to fashion; such publications are not listed here, as most are not in P&P collections but, rather, are part of the Library's general periodical and book collections).

The illustrated newspapers regularly included cartoons, and comic illustrations were the primary pictorial content of the comic magazines such as Puck and Judge.