About this Collection
More than 13,000 groups of photographs, prints, drawings, and other visual material offer access to 1.5 million items dating primarily from the 1800s through the present. The groups, called "LOTs," gather images related to one another by provenance, creator, subject, or format into manageable sets. Examples include the component parts of the NAACP archives, photo projects by Milton Rogovin, LOTs relating to Native Americans, and sets of stereographs by particular publishers. In some cases, digital images exist for all items in the group; in other cases selected images or no images have been digitized. A link in the group record retrieves those items that have been individually described or digitized.
The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division began assembling LOTs in the late 1940s to provide convenient access to sets of pictures. Most LOTs were received as copyright registration groups, as donations, or as transfers of visual material from personal papers and record groups in the Manuscript Division. Approximately 13,000 LOTs had been assembled by 2009, with new LOTs added each year.
Originally, descriptions of each LOT were maintained in a card catalog called the "Divisional Catalog." Starting in 1986, descriptions of newly cataloged LOTs were added only to the online catalogs, with full subject headings and notes. In 2005, the old card catalog entries were converted to online records, except for the subject headings, which can still be consulted in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room. This card file covers each LOT cataloged through the 1980s, with numerous access points for creators and subjects filling almost 150 card drawers.