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Popular Graphic Art Prints at the Library of Congress (1600s-1970s)

Collection Strengths

Peter S. Duval, lithographer. John Adams, 2nd president of the United States. Copyrighted 1846. Popular Graphic Arts. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Popular Graphic Arts Collection (PGA)

The approximately 15,000 prints in the PGA Collection at the Library of Congress were published from 1600 to 1943, with the bulk having been produced between 1800 and 1890. The work of Currier & Ives dominates the collection, along with such other popular American print publishers as John Henry Bufford, Peter S. Duval, Louis Prang, and E. Sachse & Co, as well as Mexican publisher Antonio Vanegas Arroyo.

The images in the collection are diverse, including battle scenes, propaganda, cartoons, presidential elections, presidential portraits, advertising, religious iconography, African Americans, town and cityscapes, and depictions of women. The prints, especially those depicting a historical event long after it has passed, often present an idealized version, which is to say, not entirely factual. How the past was understood changes over time, which makes these imagined scenes useful for historians.

Popular & Applied Graphic Arts Collection (PAGA 7)

The estimated 50,000 prints in the PAGA 7 Collection were published primarily between 1890 and 1920, with selected works produced into the 1970s. The collection includes woodcuts, engravings, etchings, lithographs, and offset. Some of the pieces represent visual ephemera that might not have survived the ages had they not been deposited for copyright. The subject categories beginning with the letters A through C indicate the range of material: Advertising, African Americans, Airplanes, Allegory, Animals, Architecture, Astronomical, Automobiles, Baseball, Bicycles, Birds, Book jackets, Bridges, Buildings, Calendars, Calligraphy, Cartoons, Certificates, Charts, Children, Christmas, Comics, Courtship, Cowboys, Crime, and Cut outs.