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Pike County Court House, Pittsfield, Illinois

Photographs in the Seagram County Court House Archives

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., 20540-4730

Collection digitized? Generally, no. A selected image is included here to give a sample of the collection.
Jump to: Background and Scope | Access | Ordering Reproductions | Permissions and Credits | Related Collections and Sources | Bibliography

Background and Scope

The Seagram County Court House Archives, a collection of more than 11,000 photographic negatives and 2,500 master prints, was presented as a gift, with its copyright ownership, to the Library of Congress in 1980 by Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Inc. To mark the Bicentennial of the United States of America, Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Inc. commissioned twenty-four photographers to record more than 1,100 county court houses using both color and black and white film. The project, directed by Phyllis Lambert and edited by Richard Pare, created the most comprehensive survey to date of a type of American building.

American County Court Houses

The county court house has been central to the democratic system of government since the beginnings of this nation. It continues to be the place where citizens debate and vote on the conduct of the populace and the legal issues affecting their daily lives, where they settle their differences, keep the peace, record their property, pay their taxes, and set down births and deaths. Over the last 200 years the scale, form, and materials of these structures have reflected the prosperity, aspirations, and geographic and cultural diversity of the nation's people. From the simplest vernacular structures to the grandest expressions in stone, steel, and glass, the development of the architectural heritage of the United States can be observed in its court houses. According to Phyllis Lambert, the "project was the first undertaking of its kind, its aim, to produce a cross section of American architecture from geographical and historical points of view. Beginning in 1725, and concluding with buildings still under construction, the Seagram Archive pays particular attention to the eastern states, the Midwest and Texas and California."

The Photographers

The twenty-four photographers commissioned by Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Inc., were:

Harold Allen
Lewis Baltz
Richard Bartlett
Douglas Baz
Caldecot Chubb
William Clift
Jim Dow
Frank Gohlke
Allen Hess
Pirkle Jones
Lewis Kostiner
Ellen Land-Weber
Patrick Linehan

Nicholas Nixon
Ira Nowinski
Tod Papageorge
Richard Pare
Stephen Shore
Bob Thall
Jerry Thompson
Charles H. Traub
Paul Vanderbilt
Laura Volkerding
Geoff Winningham

Project editor Richard Pare described their work: "...twenty-four photographers were commissioned to work in widely distributed areas of the country. Each brought insights and a personal vision to the project, creating a far richer resource than conformity could have accomplished. The subject itself was closely enough refined to set its own limits within which the widest possible freedom was available to the photographers. The pictures they made enabled me to see the subject from constantly changing points of view..."



Two publications provide introduction and access to the images:
  • Pare, Richard, editor. Court House, a Photographic Document. New York: Horizon Press, 1978. 255 pgs.; 350 illustrations.
    LC Call Number: NA4475,U6 C68.

    This beautifully illustrated, landmark publication provides an introduction and overview of the history of the court house and the photographs taken for the project.

    Although reproduction numbers are not provided in the publication, they can be obtained by consulting an annotated copy in the Prints and Photographs Division Reading Room, or by citing the plate number and relevant data from the caption in a request made to the Division's reference staff.

  • County Court Houses of the United States: The Seagram County Court House Archives and Other Photographic Collections in the Library of Congress. Essex, N.Y.: Dunlap Society, 1981. 2 vols., 180 fiche
    LC Call number: NA4471.C67

    This microfiche publication represents the Seagram photographs as well as selected views from collections in the Library of Congress (see Related Collections). The two volumes are arranged in geographical order (by state, then county). Each fiche contains explanatory material at the front. The microfiche is available in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room.

Master Prints

2500 master prints by the twenty-four photographers are available for study in the Prints and Photographs Division Reading Room as examples of the best of their work. These prints are a primary resource for photographers and scholars. Filed as LOT 11936, they are arranged first by name of photographer and then in geographical order.

Ordering Reproductions

Reproduction numbers of individual photos can be obtained by using the microfiche publication, County Court Houses of the United States: The Seagram County Court House Archives and Other Photographic Collections in the Library of Congress or by viewing the master prints. Patrons are welcome to contact the Prints and Photographs Division to determine the reproduction number of an image.

Once a reproduction number is known, photographic prints or transparencies can be ordered directly from the Library of Congress, Duplication Services, Washington, D.C., 20540-4570 (email: [email protected]; telephone: 202-707-5640). Order forms, a price list, and order instructions will be provided on request.

Permissions and Credits

There are no restrictions on the use of photographs from this collection for personal reference, consultation, or study. Written permission from the Library of Congress is required for publication or display and will be granted when conformity to certain guidelines is assured. Requests to publish or display selected images from this collection may be made using P&P Form 48a.

Related Collections in the Prints and Photographs Division

Supplemental Material, Seagram Bicentennial County Court House Archives

An important aspect of the Seagram Bicentennial Court House project was the compilation of a variety of source material on county court houses. As a result, the collection contains 425 files of research material on specific court houses which consist primarily of correspondence with all the county governments as well as many organizations involved directly or peripherally with the court house. These files contain 5,000 survey response letters, in addition to news clippings, articles, citations in books, pamphlets, county reports, court house feasibility studies, dedication brochures, postcards, snapshots, and unpublished local histories and manuscripts.

Referred to as Supplemental Material, and filed by state, county, then city, these 425 files are offsite and an appointment is necessary to arrange for their retrieval. The presence of a written file for a particular court house is indicated in the microfiche publication County Courthouses of the United States in one of two ways. First, it is indicated by an asterisk in front of the county seat name in the first fiche for each state's front section. Second, the presence of a file is indicated by a pyramid shape following the photo caption for a particular court house.

The Prints and Photographs Division also has three volumes of data sheets collected in 1977 facilitate the publication of Court House. These contain xeroxes of photographs and typed information, such as county names, former court houses, architects, date(s), descriptions, additions, and sources.

These materials are stored offsite and therefore are not immediately accessible. Retrieval can be arranged in ten business days or less by filling out call slips for individual court houses, supplying state/county/city information, and marking the slip "Seagram offsite - supplemental material (PR 06 CN 816)." Please consult Division reference staff for assistance.

Other Visual Collections

Court house photographs from the following collections are included in the 1981 microfiche County Court Houses of the United States, described above.

  • Joseph S. Allen

    This survey of 11,427 architectural photographs, taken chiefly 1945 to 1967 of twenty-seven eastern and Midwestern states, includes almost 900 court houses, including all the court houses in fourteen states. In general the court houses are presented as overall views. The photographs are in LOT 11661. (See collection summary for more information.)

  • Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)

    Over 400 court houses are documented in measured drawings, photographs, and/or pages of written information made ca. 1933 to the present.

  • National Society of Colonial Dames of America

    Court houses in thirty-seven states were surveyed in the 1960s as part of a project sponsored by the National Society of Colonial Dames of America to publish state guides to court houses (see bibliography, below). The visual materials made or collected for the project were deposited in the Prints and Photographs Division and are filed in LOTS 11851 to 11887.

  • Pictorial Archives of Early American Architecture

    This project, funded by the Carnegie Foundation from 1930 to 1938, collected negatives of important pre-20th century U.S. architecture from a wide range of amateur and professional photographers. Over two dozen examples of court houses are included in this collection and are accessible through a geographically based card index. (See collection summary for more information.)

  • Wittemann Collection

    Wittemann Brothers, Mr. Herman L. Wittemann's Brooklyn-based company, later known as the Albertype Company, produced over 25,000 photoprints which were used in postcard and souvenir booklets from ca. 1890 to 1952. While locally notable buildings comprise the greater part of this collection, court houses are included at times as a central focus or as part of the streetscape. Although the collection was dispersed in the Division, images of court houses can be found in the Specific Subject File under the heading "Courthouses."

  • Detroit Publishing Company

    The Detroit Publishing Company photographed American cities, towns, and resorts, and parks, including local landmarks, buildings, street scenes, and monuments, primarily from 1898 to 1912. Over 100 court houses throughout the United States are represented. The collection is available online in PPOC.
    [Retrieve Detroit Publishing Company records containing the words "court house" "courthouse" or "courthouses"]

Selected Bibliography

This bibliography is arranged in three parts by type of geographic coverage: national, regional, and state. With the exception of Paul Goeldner's dissertation, and the National Society of Colonial Dames guides, this selection is limited to more recent publications. Books on individual court houses are not included.


Hardenbergh, Don. Retrospective of Courthouse Design, 1980-1991. Williamsburg: National Center for State Courts, 1992. LC Call Number: NA4471.H38 1992

20th century court houses; their designs and plans.

Pare, Richard, ed. Court House: A Photographic Document. New York: Horizon Press, 1978. LC Call Number: NA4475.U6 C68

The 350 illustrations provide an overview of the Seagram County Court House Archives.


Goeldner, Paul. "Temples of Justice: Nineteenth Century Courthouses in the Midwest and Texas," unpublished Ph.D dissertation Columbia University, New York, 1970. LC Call Number: NA4471.G63 1970a [P&P]

Includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.



Dreyfuss, John J., ed. A History of Arizona's Counties and Courthouses. Tucson: National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Arizona, 1972. LC Call Number: F811.D7


National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. Arkansas. A Survey of Arkansas Court Houses. [Little Rock?]. 1965-1968. LC Call Number: F411.N37 1965


McDevitt, Ray. Courthouses of California: An Illustrated History. Berkeley, Calif.: California Historical Society, 2001. LC Call Number: NA4472.C2 C68 2001

National Society of the Colonial Dames of America Resident in the State of California. Counties and Courthouses of California: A Survey. 1964. LC Call Number: F862.N26 1964


Virden, William L. Cornerstones and Communities: A Historical Overview of Colorado's County Seats and Courthouses. Loveland, Colorado: Rodgers & Nelson Pub., 2001. LC Call Number: NA4472.C6 V57 2001


Pitkin, James Sherman, Mrs., comp. Court House Survey of Connecticut. National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Connecticut, 1968. LC Call Number: KFC3678.P5


Dunn, Hampton. Historic Florida Courthouses. Gloucester Point, Va.: Hallmark Pub., 1998. LC Call Number: F312.D794 1998


Jordan, Robert H., and Puster, J. Gregg. Courthouses in Georgia. Norcross, Ga.: Harrison Co., 1984. LC Call Number: NA4472.G4 J6 1984


National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. Illinois. Historic Court Houses in Illinois. Compiled by Lucy Miller Sturgis. Illinois: The Society, 1964. LC Call Number: F547.A15 N38


Counts, I. Wilmer. The Magnificent 92 Indiana Courthouses. Rev. ed. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1999. LC Call Number: F527.C86 1999


National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. Iowa. Historical Iowa Courthouses. Compiled by Mrs. Dwight S. Adams et al. The Society, 1968. LC Call Number: F627.A15 N3

Pratt, LeRoy G. The Counties and Courthouses of Iowa. Mason City, Iowa: Klipto Print. & Office Supply Co., 1977. LC Call Number: F622.P69

Stanek, Edward J., and Stanek, Jacqueline. Iowa's Magnificent County Courthouses. Des Moines: Wallace-Homestead Book Co., 1976. LC Call Number: NA4472.I8 S7


Davis, Gordon A. Kansas Courthouse Architecture: Traveling Exhibit. Wichita: Museum Programs, Wichita Public Schools, 1981. LC Call Number: NA4472.K3 D38


Garr, Elisabeth Headley. The History of Kentucky Courthouses; An Illustrated History of Courthouses and County Historical Data. National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Kentucky, 1972. LC Call Number: F452.G26


Brasseaux, Carl A., et al. The Courthouses of Louisiana. Lafayette: Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1977. LC Call Number F370.B72


Sloane, Robert K. The Courthouses of Maine. Woolwich, Maine: Maine Lawyer's Review, 1998. LC Call Number: NA4472.M2 S59 1998


Radoff, Morris Leon. The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland. 2 vols. Maryland Hall of Records Commission, Publication no. 12-13. Annapolis: The Commission, 1960-1963. LC Call Number: CD3280.A16 no. 12-13


Peet, George, and Keller, Gabrielle. Courthouses of the Commonwealth: Photographs. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1984. LC Call Number NA4472.M3 P4 1984


King, Jonathan, et al. The Michigan Courthouse Study. 7 vols. Ann Arbor: Architectural Research Laboratory, University of Michigan, 1981- . LC Call Number: NA4472.M5 K56 1981


County Court Houses in Missouri. [St. Louis]: National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Missouri, 1972. LC Call Number: F467.C68 1972

Ohman, Marian M. Encyclopedia of Missouri Courthouses. [Columbia]: University of Missouri-Columbia, Extension Division, 1981. LC Call Number: NA4472.M8 O35 1981

Pace, J. Bradley. Survivors: A Catalog of Missouri's Remaining 19th Century County Courthouses. [Prairie Village, Kans.: J.B. Pace], 2000. LC Call Number NA4472.M8 P33 2000


James, Ronald M. Temples of Justice: County Courthouses of Nevada. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1994. LC Call Number: NA4472 .N3 J36 1994 [copy in P&P]

New Mexico:

Whisenhunt, Donald W. New Mexico Courthouses. Southwestern studies; monograph no. 57. [El Paso]: Texas Western Press, 1979. LC Call Number: F797.W57

New York:

Dierickx, Mary The Architecture of Public Justice: Historic Courthouses of the City of New York. New York: City of New York, Department of General Services, 1993. LC Call Number: NA4473 .N5D54 1993 [copy in P&P]

Gotwalt, Helen Louise Miller. Crucible of a Nation: First New York County Courthouse, 1754-1841. [York, Pa.]: York County Bicentennial Commission, 1977. LC Call Number: F157.Y6 G67

Johnson, Herbert Alan. Historic Courthouses of New York State: 18th and 19th Century Halls of Justice across the Empire State. New York: Columbia University Press, 1977. LC Call Number: F120.J64

North Carolina:

Crane, Paul S. North Carolina Taproots: Courthouses of North Carolina. Franklin, Tenn.: Hillsboro Press, 1998. LC Call Number: F255.C73 1998

Heatherly, Charles. The Courthouses of North Carolina. Norcross, Ga.: Harrison, 1988. LC Call Number: F255.H45 1988


The Great 88: A Brief Guide to Each of Ohio's 88 Counties and Their Beautiful Courthouses. [Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Department of Development, 1993]. LC Call Number: NA4472.O3 G74 1993

Stebbins, Clair C. Ohio's Court Houses. [Zanesville, Ohio:], 1980. LC Call Number: F492.S75

Thrane, Susan W. County Courthouses of Ohio. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000. LC Call Number: NA4472.O3 T48 2000


Grady, Charles. County Courthouses of Oklahoma. Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 1985. LC Call Number: F695.G73 1985

National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. Oklahoma. Oklahoma Counties and Some of Their Courthouses. ed. by Mrs. W. Thomas Thach. 1968. LC Call Number: F702.A15 N3


Wiederhold, Kathleen M. Exploring Oregon's Historic Courthouses. Corvallis, Oreg.: Oregon State University Press, 1998. LC Call Number: F877.W54 1998


Williams, Oliver P. County Courthouses of Pennsylvania: A Guide. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 2001. LC Call Number: NA4472.P4 W55 2001

South Carolina:

Waddell, Gene, and Liscombe, Rhodri Windsor. Robert Mills's Courthouses & Jails. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1981. LC Call Number: NA4472.S6 W33 1981.


Carpenter, John W. John W. Carpenter's Tennessee Courthouses: A Celebration of 200 Years of County Courthouses. London, Ky.: J.W. Carpenter, 1996. LC Call Number: F437.C38 1996

Crane, Sophie and Paul. Tennessee Taproots: Courthouses of Tennessee. Franklin, Tenn.: Hillsboro Press, 1996. LC Call Number: F437 .C7 1996


Kelsey, Mavis P. Sr., and Dyal, Donald H. The Courthouses of Texas: A Guide. College Station: Texas A&M University Press,1993. LC Call Number: NA4472 .T4 K46 1993 [copy in P&P]

Robinson, Willard B. The People's Architecture: Texas Courthouses, Jails, and Municipal Buildings. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1983. LC Call Number: NA4472 .T4 R63 1983


Bucklen, Mary Kegley and Bucklen, Larrie L. County Courthouses of Virginia, Old and New. Charleston, W. Va.: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, 1988. LC Call Number: NA4472 .V8K44 1988 P&P

Lounsbury, Carl. "The Structure of Justice: The Courthouses of Colonial Virginia." In Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, III, ed. By Thomas Carter and Bernard L. Herman. Columbia, University of Missouri, 1989. LC Call Number NA705 .P472 volume 3

Peters, John O., and Peters, Margaret T. Virginia's Historic Courthouses. Charlottesville, Va.: University Press of Virginia, 1995. LC Call Number: F227.P377 1995.

Washington (State):

Jones, Sylvia Case. From Cabin to Cupola: An Illustrated Story of the County Courthouses and the Counties of Washington. Seattle: Shorey Book Store, 1971. Compiled for the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. Washington. LC Call Number: F891.J63

West Virginia:

Thrash, Mary. West Virginia Courthouses: A Pictorial History. Clarksburg, W. Va.: M. Thrash, 1984. LC Call Number: F242.T47 1984

National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. West Virginia. West Virginia's Counties and Courthouses. 1972. LC Call Number: F242.N37 1972


National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. Wyoming. A Survey of Wyoming County Courthouses. 1970. LC Call Number: F767.A15 N3

Prepared by: Marilyn Ibach, Reference Specialist, February 3, 2003.
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