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Ships: Navigating for Images at the Library of Congress

A guide to searching the collections of the Prints & Photographs Division for photos or illustrations, primarily made between 1850 and 1950, of named battleships, boats, ocean liners, steamships and yachts.


Maritime Commission. Biography of a Liberty Ship. Birth of a ship... 1941. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

The Prints & Photographs Division has a wide array of images depicting ships, including many photographs as well as engravings, lithographs, drawings, and other types of illustrations. The images are scattered throughout the collections, so understanding the collection strengths as well as best places to search will help you focus your research on the most likely places.

While you will find some images of ships made earlier and later, the Division's ship collections are strongest between the years 1850 and 1950. The earlier the date the more likely we are to have an illustration rather than a photograph.

The Prints & Photographs Division's collections come from many different sources. Many prints and photos were received through copyright deposit. Other images came through donations and purchases made over the years.