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Picture Catalogs Online

Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress,Washington, DC 20540-4730

Picture Catalogs montage

Jump to: Libraries, Archives, and Museums: A - G | H - M | N - O | P - Z
Commercial Sources (a sampler)

Introduction: Scope and Arrangement of the List

A growing number of libraries, archives, and museums offer ready access to their visual materials through Web-based searchable databases that focus on photographs, prints, and drawings. The Prints and Photographs Division, for instance, offers the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC), which provides access to a large cross-section of images. Other institutions' databases offer regional and subject strengths that may not be available anywhere else. This list of online picture catalogs will help you find historical, documentary images described and, often, pictured in such databases.

The selection of about 50 catalogs is representative rather than exhaustive.

  • Covers sites that emphasize online catalogs and finding aids for pictorial collections.
  • Emphasizes databases that cover historical and documentary images in general subject areas, rather than those that focus on a single topic.
  • Most catalogs have more than 1,000 records and are predominately in the English language.
  • Many (not all) include digital images.
  • When catalogs include non-pictorial materials, the search screens make it obvious and easy to limit a query to still pictures.
Out of scope are:
  • Web sites based on exhibit and gallery presentations
  • commercial sites that sell original prints and photographs
  • catalogs that feature art or slide reproductions.
Within the two categories, Libraries, Archives, and Museums and Commercial Sources (a sampler), entries are listed alphabetically by the name of the sponsoring institution.

Disclaimer icon The Library of Congress does not maintain most of these sites. Users should direct concerns about these links to their respective site administrators or webmasters.

Libraries, Archives, and Museums

A - G

Adirondack Experience

Online Collections
Select to limit to "Photos" to search more than 30,000 historical photographs of the Adirondacks.

American Antiquarian Society

Limit search to "Graphic Arts" to locate thousands of historical prints and numerous photographs. For engravings, use the Catalog of American Engravings, For online inventories of collections not yet in the catalog, use the Collection Access Chart,

American Institute of Physics

Emilio Segrè Visual Archives
"More than 30,000 historical digital images, photographs, slides, lithographs, engravings, drawings and other visual materials.”

Arizona State Archives

Historic Photographs
More than 30,000 of 160,000 photographs are digitized and searchable online.

Arkansas History Commission

More than 50,000 photographs and 13,000 digital images.

Boston Historical Society (The Bostonian Society)

Online Catalog
One catalog retrieves photos and postcards. Another catalog covers prints and paintings. At least 10,000 digitized images.

British Columbia

Historical Photographs Online
Provides links to databases describing more than 250,000 photographs and documentary art at the British Columbia Archives, City of Vancouver, University of British Columbia, and other repositories. Maintained by the Archives Association of British Columbia.

British Library

Catalogue of Photographs
"A detailed searchable database for locating photographs, photographically-illustrated books and texts relating to photography held in all departments of the British Library."
Online Gallery: Historic Photographs
Images Online
"A unique resource for commercial picture buyers, enabling you to license thousands of images from the British Library's unparalleled collections."

Library and Archives Canada

Archives Search
Recently cataloged and digitized visual materials. Select types of material: “architectural and technical drawings,” “art,” or “photographic material.”

Chicago History Museum (Chicago Historical Society)

Research Center, Archie,
Select "advanced search" and limit to Photos/Prints (all), which includes digitized images.

Connecticut Historical Society, with the University of Connecticut and Mystic Seaport

Connecticut History Online
About 14,000 images of photographs, drawings, and prints.

Council of Nova Scotia Archives

Archway Photographic Database
Union catalog for photographs in archives throughout Nova Scotia.

Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy

Digital Image Collection
Almost 145,000 images and catalog records of "American Indians, pioneers, railroads, mining, Denver and Colorado towns, city, farm, and ranch life, recreation, scenery, news events, and numerous other subjects and states."

Undigitized Photos Guides


Flickr Commons
More than 75 libraries, archives, and museums contribute pictures with “no known copyright restrctions.”

Florida State Archives

Florida Memory. Florida Photographic Collection
Almost 100,000 records and digital images for photographs are online. The Archives has more than 850,000 photos.

Collection Index
"A list of individual collections that represent donations made by individual photographers or government agencies that make up the Florida Photographic Collection as a whole."

Folger Shakespeare Library

Digital Image Collection
Search for "art" to browse the visual material holdings, numbering more than 15,000 images.

George Eastman House: International Museum of Photography and Film

Photography Collections Online
Offers access by photographer or format, with many digital images. Full catalog is available by telnet,


H - M

Harvard University Library

Visual Information Access (VIA)
"VIA contains descriptive records and images representing paintings, sculpture, photography, drawings, prints, architecture, decorative arts, trade cards, rubbings, theater designs, maps and plans. Participating repositories include archives, museums, libraries, and other collections...."

Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

Online Catalog
“Includes descriptions of many special photograph collections and over 55,000 individual photographs in the library's general photograph collection. Other photographs are accessible through hard-copy descriptions.” Check box for "photos" content.

Indiana Historical Society

Digital Image Collections
“The IHS Collections website includes over 34,000 digital images for research, and more are added every week.”

Kentuckiana Digital Library

"There are currently over 80,000 digital images available from over 100 archival collections." With links from item-level descriptions to finding aids.

Los Angeles Public Library

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collections and Visual Collections
More than 80,000 digitized images. Emphasizes the history of Los Angeles, Southern California, and California.

Library of Congress

PPOC (Prints and Photographs Online Catalog)
Includes 600,000 records for more than 15 million pictures, with 1.2 million digital images.
Photographs and Prints in Global Gateway. Meeting of Frontiers
Includes ca. 20 collections from the Russian State Library and other repositories in Russia

Library of Virginia

Virginia Memory-Online Photo Collections
Digitized photographs and prints relating to Virginia history from several public libraries as well as the state library.

Maryland Historical Society

Photograph Collections
Searches online guides and finding aids, with selected digital images.

Maryland State Archives

Guide to the Photographic Collections
Searches collection and series-level descriptions, with selected digital images.

Minnesota Historical Society

Collections Online
More than 200,000 records for photos, art, posters, and fine art photos. Narrow by type, e.g., Photographs.


N - O

Nagasaki University Library

Japanese Metadata Database of Old Photographs in Bakumatsu-Meiji Period
About 6,000 items with digital images, 1860-1899.

National Archives and Records Administration

Online Public Access
Use Advanced Search to focus on pictures. Tip from Still Picture Records Section: For still photographs and posters, use the relevant search filter under media type (Photographs and other Graphic Materials) and location (Still Picture Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division). Database contains descriptions for more than 3,500 still photo and poster series, along with item-level descriptions and reference-quality digital reproductions for more than 40,000 selected photographs and posters.

National Archives of Canada see: Library and Archives Canada

National Library of Australia

Union catalog with more than two million records and digital images from 25 archives, libraries, and museums in Australia. The two largest contributors are the state libraries of New South Wales and Victoria. Incorporates Picture Australia.

National Library of Ireland

Advanced search
Select the format "Photo" or "Prints & Drawings." More than 35,000 digitized and more than 30,000 not digitized.

National Library of Medicine

Images from the History of Medicine (IHM)
More than 60,000 "portraits, pictures of institutions, caricatures, genre scenes, and graphic art in a variety of media, illustrating the social and historical aspects of medicine."

New Jersey Digital Highway

New Jersey Digital Highway
The first collection features immigration in a "'one stop shop'" for New Jersey history and culture, from the collections of NJ libraries, museums, archives and historical societies.

New Orleans Public Library

Louisiana Division Photograph Collection
Includes keyword search access to finding aids for photographic collections and selected digital images.

New York Public Library

NYPL Digital Gallery
"Provides access to over 800,000 images ... including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more."

Picture Collection Online
"More than 30,000 digitized images from books, magazines and newspapers as well as original photographs, prints and postcards, mostly created before 1923." No longer added to.

Northern Arizona University

Colorado Plateau Digital Archives
The catalog has ca. 50,000 digital images.

Ohio Historical Society

Ohio Pix
More than 15,000 selected digital images of prints and photographs.

Online Archive of California

Use the 'images' search screen to locate "tens of thousands of photographs, paintings, and other graphic materials." Example of a finding aid with embedded photos, Alice Iola Hare Photograph Collection,


P - Z

Princeton University

Graphic Arts. Catalogs, Databases, and Finding Aids
“Search 21,500 records describing prints, drawings, photographs, museum objects and other visual materials in the Library's Special Collections. The MASC database also contains records for visual materials in manuscript, archival, and other special collection.”

Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network (SCRAN)

“Scran is a charitable online learning resource base with over 370,000 images and multimedia files from museums, galleries, archives and the media.”

Science and Society Picture Library (England)

“Over a million images from the Science Museum, the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television and the National Railway Museum. With over 50,000 images digitized.”

Smithsonian Institution

SIRIS (Smithsonian Institution Research Information System)
"Search over 7.4 million records, with 568,100 images, video and sound files from Smithsonian museums, archives, and libraries.”

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Photographs Search
“Approximately 20% of the 85,000 historical photographs in the Photo Archives are available through this online catalog.”  “Approximately 600 of the 15,000 institutional photographs of the Museum.”

U.S. Naval Institute

Photo Archive
Viewing and sales catalog for 15,000 digitized photos from a collection of more than 450,000 images showing U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, and Coast Guard; ships and aircraft; and battles.

University of California, Berkeley

Bancroft Library. California Heritage
More than 30,000 records. "Digital representations of photographs, pictures, and manuscripts related to California history from the collections of the Bancroft Library that are a part of the California Heritage Digital Image Access Project."

University of Michigan

Bentley Historical Library. Bentley Image Bank
Almost 5,000 records and images, with links to finding aids with additional pictures.
M Library Digital Collections
Lists databases with pictorial images from many university departments, including local history collections, visual arts resources, and zoology. Set format filter to image collections.

University of North Carolina

North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives
Additional information about the archives,

University of Pittsburgh

Historic Pittsburgh: Images
"Provides access to over 10,500 visual images from thirty-eight collections held by the Archives Service Center at the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art, Chatham College Archives, the Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center, and the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation."

University of Texas Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Photography Collections Database
Use the "search" or "browse" feature to access selected descriptions from the ca. 5 million prints and negatives at the Center. “This database provides access to all of our holdings on a collection-level basis.” Some digital images.

University of Washington Libraries

Digital Collections
“Collections are primarily pictorial, although some have accompanying essays and text.”

Utah State Historical Society

Digital Library Collections
Databases with more than 65,000 digitized photographs.

Washington State University. Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections

Digital Collections
Select “Photographs” to search for digitized pictures and read descriptions of individual collections.

Wellcome Library

Wellcome Images
Catalog of historical and contemporary images in many media related to the history of medicine, health, and human culture worldwide.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Wisconsin Historical Images
Catalog with nearly 35,000images from the ca. 2 million pictures in the Visual Materials Collections, with new images added daily.


Commercial Sources (a sampler)

Web-wide "image" search engines

Google. Image search

Yahoo. Images

Stock photo agency directories

Photo Marketing Tips

Picture Archive Council of America, Membership Directory,

Prepared by: Helena Zinkham, Technical Services Section, July 2003. Last updated: January 2014.

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  March 25, 2022
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