The Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) includes descriptions of about 95% of the materials in the Division's collections and is the primary means of finding descriptions of images related to Native American history and culture. Please note that the online catalog is not a comprehensive listing of all of the images in the holdings of the Prints & Photographs Division.
Terms used to describe images portraying indigenous North American life in many cases reflect a European American perspective and may not reflect historical reality. See below for some keyword suggestions. Catalog records have varying levels of detail.
When you find a catalog record relevant to your research, it can be useful to click on the subject headings (e.g. Indians of North America--Spiritual life--1920-1930) in that record in order to find related images. You can also include “NOT India” to reduce irrelevant results.
Hundreds of groups of images, or LOTs, are described in Indians of North America: A Guide to Pictorial LOTs. A LOT is a cohesive body of material, maintained and cataloged as a group to preserve unity of subject, provenance, or format. A LOT can consist of a few items, an album containing photographs or prints, or a large number of loose items.
In addition to listing image groups in LOT number order, Indians of North America: A Guide to Pictorial LOTs includes a "Subject Index" listing tribal communities, geographic locations, activities, events and other subjects, and a "Name Index" listing photographers, copyright claimants and collectors. Researchers have found the indexes helpful because they provide a rough overview and list of how many groups of images the Prints & Photographs Division has in each category.
The physical images from LOTs are available for viewing in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room. Many of the LOT descriptions are also available online through the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. See below for access to a digital copy.
Some collections, including the U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection, the poster collections, and the fine print collections, have card indexes that contain more information than can be found in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. The card files are available for consultation in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room.
Several image files, listed below, are available for browsing in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room. Read this Picture This blog post for a quick introduction to the Prints & Photographs Division browsing files. The following browsing files may be of particular interest to those researching Native American history and culture.