Pictorial Collection Guides: Representative Examples
Collection guides can provide valuable overviews of pictorial holdings
in libraries, archives, and museums. In addition to summarizing
each collection at a repository, guides can outline relationships
among collections and highlight special attractions. Repositories
with limited resources may rely on guides as their sole access tool.
But even repositories with online catalogs may need guides to orient
new users to the full scope of available resources. The introductions
to guides can convey acquisition themes and general history to assist
researchers in understanding the nature of the collections.
This list of representative guides is designed to encourage archivists
and librarians to compile guides to their own repositories. The
examples come from a wide variety of institutions to offer patterns
easily adapted to local needs. Looking at sample guides can also
help staff learn to succinctly describe pictorial materials for
any kind of collection survey or cataloging work. Reading about
past acquisition trends, arrangement practices, and research uses
in the guide introductions can broaden understanding of current
access system needs.
The selected examples include online and printed guides to documentary
photograph, print, drawing, and ephemera collections at public institutions,
chiefly in the United States. The guides fall into three categories:
narrative essay overviews; structured checklist entries (similar
in content to records catalog but presented in a compactly and in
a sequence that best serves researchers); and directories for holdings
at multiple repositories. For examples of formal descriptions in
catalogs, see Picture Catalogs Online, (//www.loc.gov/rr/print/resource/223_piccat.html).
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.
Table of Contents
Alaska State Library: A Guide to Historical
Photographs in the Alaska State Library: Including a Selection of
Photographs on Microfiche. Juneau, AK: Alaska Department of
Education, Division of State Libraries and Museums, 1981. 14 p.,
159 microfiche sheets.
American Antiquarian Society: Under Its Generous
Dome: The Collections and Programs of the American Antiquarian Society.
2nd ed. rev. Worcester, MA: The Society, 1992. 190 p. Also available
online as a 3rd edition, 2002 at http://www.americanantiquarian.org/guidebook.htm.
Atlanta Historical Society: Garnel, Faye. Atlanta
Images: A Guide to the Photograph Collections of the Atlanta Historical
Society. Atlanta, GA: The Society, 1978. 33 p.
Boston Public Library: Collections of the
Print Department. 2001. Available online at http://www.bpl.org/research/print/collections.htm.
California Museum of Photography: "Guide
to Collections." CMP Bulletin 9, no. 1-2 (1989):
California State Archives: Photograph Collections.
2000. Available online at http://www.sos.ca.gov/archives/collections/photographs/.
Connecticut State Library: Pictorial Collections A-Z, http://www.ctstatelibrary.org/node/8856.
Hagley Museum and Library: Williams, Jon M. A
Guide to Iron and Steel: Pictures in the Hagley Museum and Library.
Wilmington, DE: The Museum and Library, 1986. 76 p.
Historic New Orleans Collection: Lawrence, John
H. Guide to the Photographic Collections at the Historic New
Orleans Collection. New Orleans: The Collection, 1989. 21 p.
Library of Congress
- Guide records in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog, //www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/guide/
- Melville, Annette. Special Collections in the Library of
Congress: A Selective Guide. Washington, DC: The Library,
1980. 464 p.
- Vanderbilt, Paul. Guide to the Special Collections of Prints
& Photographs in the Library of Congress. Washington,
DC: The Library, 1955. 200 p.
Missouri State Archives: Photographs.
Available online at http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/resources/photo.asp
National Archives and Records Administration: Burger,
Barbara Lewis. Guide to the Holdings of the Still Picture Branch
of the National Archives and Records Administration. Washington,
DC: The Archives 1991. 166 p. Also available online at http://www.archives.gov/research/guides/still-pictures-guide.html
National Archives of Canada: Seifried, Christopher.
National Photography Collection. Ottawa, Ont.: Public Archives
of Canada, 1984. 49 p.
National Library of Ireland: Rouse, Sarah. Into
the Light: An Illustrated Guide to the Photograph Collections in
the National Library of Ireland. Dublin: National Library of
Ireland, 1998. 120 p.
National Maritime Museum (U.S.): Maounis, John,
and Daniel L. Keller, comps. Four Maritime Photograph Collections:
A Guide to the Morrison, Hester, Morton-Waters, and Procter Collections.
San Francisco: The Museum, 1982. 61 p.
Natural History Museum, Los Angeles County:Guide to the Photograph Collections. Undated, http://www.nhm.org/site/research-collections/seaver-center/photograph-collections-guide
New-York Historical Society: Zinkham, Helena.
A Guide to Print, Photograph, Architecture & Ephemera Collections
of The New York-Historical Society. New York: The Society,
1998. 175 p.
New York State Archives and Records Administration:
Andress, Richard, and Elisabeth A. Golding. Enduring Images:
A Guide to the Photographic Records in the New York State Archives.
Albany, NY: University of the State of New York, 1993. 27 p.
North Dakota State University: Bye, John E. From
the Northern Prairies: Guide to the Visual Collections of the North
Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, North Dakota State University
Libraries, Fargo. Fargo: The Institute, 1991. 1 vol.
Northern Arizona University: Cline Library. Special
Collections and Archives Department. Photo Archive Finding Guide.
The Library, c1998.
Pennsylvania State Archives: Ries, Linda A. Guide
to Photographs at the Pennsylvania State Archives. Harrisburg:
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1993. 229 p.
San Diego Historical Society: Willett, Gregory
L. "Guide to the Photographic Collections of the San Diego
Historical Society." Journal of San Diego History
(1998). Also available online at http://www.sandiegohistory.org/photocollect/photocollect.htm.
Smithsonian Institution: Vogt O'Connor, Diane.
Guide to Photographic Collections at the Smithsonian Institution. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989-1995. 4
Texas Tech University. Southwest Collection: Guide
to the Manuscript and Photograph Collections of the Southwest Collections.
Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University, 1996. 402 p.
University of Arizona. Center for Creative Photography:
Myers, Roger, comp. Guide to Archival Materials of the Center
for Creative Photography. Tucson, AZ: The Center, 1986. 126
University of Louisville: Photographic Archives.Louisville, KY: The University, ca. 1990. 12 p.
University of Oklahoma: Southwell, Kristina L.,
comp. Guide to Photographs in the Western History Collections
of the University of Oklahoma. Norman: University of Oklahoma
Press, 2002. 190 p.
University of Texas at Arlington: Rodnitzky, Shirley
R. A Guide to Archives and Manuscript Collections in the Special
Collections Division at The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.
Arlington, TX: The University of Texas at Arlington, 2000. Also
available online at http://libraries.uta.edu/SpecColl/findaids/guideIntr.htm.
Victoria and Albert Museum: Haworth-Booth, Mark.
Photography, an Independent Art: Photographs from the Victoria
and Albert Museum 1839-1996. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
Press, 1997. 208 p.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: The Photograph Collection. http://spec.lib.vt.edu/specgen/photogph.htm
Amon Carter Museum of Western Art: Hughston, Milan
R. "The Print Collection of the Amon Carter Museum." Imprint
7 (Autumn 1982): 17-27.
- The American Historical Print Collectors Society published similar
profiles for many other repositories between 1979 and 1989: Boston
Athenaeum, Chicago Historical Society, Essex Institute, Henry
Ford Museum, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Maryland Historical
Society, National Portrait Gallery, New-York Historical Society,
and Yale University Art Gallery.
Archives of American Art: Garnett, McCoy. "Photographs
and Photography in the Archives of American Art." Archives
of American Art Journal 12, no. 3 (1972): 1-18.
Art Institute of Chicago: Ryerson & Burnham
Archives: Collection Descriptions. The Institute, 20002. Available
online at http://www.artic.edu/research/archival-collections.
Indiana Historical Society: Manuscript and
Visual Collections. 2000.http://www.indianahistory.org/our-collections/manuscript-and-visual-collections/alphabetical-index-manuscript-and-visual-collections-1
Library of Congress:
- Katz, Harry, and Sara Duke. "Cartoon-related Research at
the Library of Congress." 1994-2003. Available online at
(accessed July 20, 2004).
- Peatross, C. Ford. "Architectural Collections of the Library
of Congress." Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress
34 (July 1977): 249-284.
Maryland Historical Society: Cox, Lynn, and Helena
Zinkham. "Picture Research at the Maryland Historical Society:
A Guide to the Sources." Maryland Historical Magazine
76 (Spring 1981): 1-21.
Michigan State Archives: Guide for Photo Researchers.
Available online at http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-54463_54475_18660-54109--,00.html.
National Museum of American History: G.A.
100: The Centenary of the Division of Graphic Arts. Washington,
DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1986. 51 p.
University of Pennsylvania: Kenworthy, Mary Anne.
"Photo Archives, University of Pennsylvania Museum." Picture
Scope 32 (Spring 1986): 58-63.
- Other articles in the Picture Scope collection profile
series cover the John F. Kennedy Library, Minnesota Historical
Society, Montana Historical Society, and University of California
University of Pennsylvania. Museum of Archaeology and
Anthropology: Pezzati, Alessandro. Adventures in Photography:
Expeditions of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology
and Anthropology. Philadelphia: The Museum, 2002. 88 p.
St. Lawrence University: Photographs at St.
Lawrence University: A Critical Survey and Catalogue of the Permanent
Collection of the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery, with Selected Photographs
from Special Collections and University Archives of the Owen D.
Young Library. Canton, NY: St. Lawrence University, 2000. 219
State Historical Society of Iowa: Audio-Visual
Collection - Des Moines Center. Available online at
Directories to Collections at Multiple
Architectural Research Materials in New York City: A Guide
to Resources in All Five Boroughs. New York: Committee for
the Preservation of Architectural Records, 1977. 1 loose leaf vol.
Brightbill, George D., and Colleen Byrne. PACSCL Photograph
Directory and Index: Eastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey,
Delaware. Philadelphia: Temple University, Urban Archives,
1996. Also available online at http://www.library.temple.edu/urbana/titdir.htm.
Claassen, Lynda C. Finder's Guide to Prints and Drawings in
the Smithsonian Institution. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution
Press, 1981. 210 p.
Conkelton, Sheryl, comp. University of California: Directory
of Photographic Collections. Riverside, CA: California Museum
of Photography, 1985. ca. 180 p.
Davidson, Martha, ed. Picture Collections,
Mexico: A Guide to Picture Sources in the United Mexican States.
Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1988. 292 p.
Dexter, Lorraine. "American Collections of Stereoscopic Photographs."
Eye to Eye, no. 5 (June 1954): 3-23.
Eakins, Rosemary, ed. Picture Sources UK. London: Macdonald,
1985. 474 p.
Eskind, Andrew H., ed. Index to American Photographic Collections.
3rd ed. New York: G.K. Hall, 1996. 1058 p.
Eskind, Andrew H., and Greg Drake, eds. Photography Database. 2010-present. http://photographydatabase.org/about.html (Continues the <em>Index to American Photographic Collections</em>)
Evans, Hilary, and Mary Evans, comps. Picture Researcher's
Handbook: An International Guide to Picture Sources and How to Use
Them. 6th ed. London: Routledge, 1996. 649 p.
Freeman, Carla C., and Barbara Stevenson, eds. The Visual Resources
Directory: Art Slide and Photograph Collections in the United States
and Canada. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1995. 174 p.
Gorin, Abbye A. A Guide to Photographic Collections in New
Orleans. New Orleans, LA: University of New Orleans, 1987.
Graphic History Society of America. [Notes about Collections].
Eye to Eye: Bulletin of the Graphic History Society of America,
no. 1-6 (June 1953-Sept. 1954). Includes catalog card format descriptions
of 179 collections at many institutions. A related survey of pictorial
collections summarizes holdings in ten U.S. states.
Green, Shirley L., comp. Pictorial Resources in the Washington,
D.C., Area. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1976. 297
Harvard University Library. Photographs at Harvard and Radcliffe:
A Directory. Cambridge, MA: The Library, 1984. 83 p.
Harvard University Library, Weissman
Preservation Center. A Directory
to Photographs at Harvard. 2004.
Available online at:
Jacoby, Mary Moore, ed. Charleston--A Guide to Photographic
Resources. Charleston, SC: Preservation Society of Charleston,
1994. 31 p.
Lowell, Waverly B., ed. Architectural Records in the San Francisco
Bay Area: A Guide to Research. New York: Garland, 1988. 350
Pearce-Moses, Richard, comp. Photographic Collections in Texas:
A Union Guide. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University
Press, 1987. 381 p.
Robl, Ernest H., ed. Picture Sources 4. 4th ed. New York:
Special Libraries Association, 1983. 180 p.
Seifried, Christopher, ed. Guide to Canadian Photographic Archives.
Ottawa: Public Archives Canada, 1984. 727 p.
Symons, Jane. Photographic Resources of Australia, 1990.
Sydney: J. Symons, 1989. 359 p.
Union Guide to Photograph Collections of the Pacific Northwest.
Portland, OR: Oregon Historical Society, 1978. 419 p.
Wall, John, comp. Directory of British Photographic Collections.
London: Heinemann, 1977. 226 p.
The entries in this bibliography were
selected according to the following criteria:
|- English language publications
||- Collections in public institutions
|- Overviews; not item-level checklists
||- Exhibit catalogs only if repository overview and history
- General decriptions of holdings; not thematic selections
or individual collection profiles
|- Five or more pages, including articles, books, and Web sites
Compiled by: Helena Zinkham, Head, Technical Services Section,
Prints and Photographs Division, June 2004. Last revised: Januay 2014.