A large proportion of the popular graphic arts prints can be viewed online, but more are available for viewing on site. Provided below is information about how the collections are arranged, what can be viewed online and how on-site researchers locate and view original prints.
When the Library of Congress began to organize its popular graphic art prints in the 1940s, two collections were formed. One collection has approximately 15,000 prints arranged primarily by the names of notable lithographers or publishers and uses the call number PGA. The other collection has approximately 50,000 prints arranged by broad subject and format categories and uses the call number PAGA 7. The acronym PAGA stands for Popular and Applied Graphic Arts because the PAGA 7 collection includes examples of such utilitarian materials as advertisements, calendars, certificates, designs and patterns, fashions, games, and wallpaper.
When you need to search comprehensively for a particular printmaker or specific subject, it is important to check both the PGA and PAGA 7 collections. So many thousands of prints were being sorted to similar prints wound up in both collections. Described below are methods for searching the two collections and arranging to view them in person.
Prior to the creation of online catalog records, most of the prints in the Popular Graphic Art (PGA) Collection were described in two card catalogs. However, neither card catalog lists all of the prints in the collection. The online records contain the most up-to-date information. The cards can be useful for understanding how a print was previously described or where it was formerly stored.
Researchers who are able to visit on site may request to view prints by submitting a call slip in the reading room. We generally request that for prints already digitized at high resolution, researchers first look at the highest resolution file (tiff file) to gain as much visual information as possible, before requesting to view an original, as retrieving and refiling fragile prints puts added wear and tear on them. Please contact us in advance if you want to see more than 15 prints on a single day.