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New edition: Hanna Soltys, Reference Librarian, Prints & Photographs Division
First edition: Helena Zinkham,Technical Services, Prints & Photographs Division
Note: This guide was adapted from "Picture Catalogs Online" list, previously available on the Prints and Photographs Division website.
Created: July 2003
Last Updated: January 2023
Many libraries, archives, and museums offer ready access to their visual materials through Web-based, searchable databases that focus on photographs, prints, and drawings. For example, the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division provides a large cross-section of images through the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC).
This resource guide can help you locate even more online catalogs. These databases can be difficult to find through internet searches because the format names vary widely among such terms as images, photographs, pictures, and visual materials.
The selection of catalogs is representative rather than exhaustive. Most include digital images. The sites:
Emphasize historical and documentary images in general subject areas, rather than those that focus on a single topic or creator.
Provide filters to focus on pictures, when catalogs include non-pictorial materials.
Out of scope for this guide are:
Standard image search tools, such as Wikimedia and Google.
Sites based on exhibit and gallery presentations.
Commercial sites that sell original prints and photographs.
Catalogs that feature art or slide reproductions.
The Library of Congress does not maintain most of these sites. Users should direct concerns about these links to their respective site administrators or webmasters.