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Online Reference Sources for Cataloging Visual Materials

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

Librarians and archivists who describe photographs, cartoons, posters, drawings, prints, and other visual materials rely on a wide variety of Web-based reference sources to gather or confirm cataloging data. This selected list covers sources that can help you discover information about the creators, subjects, and geographical locations that commonly occur with still pictures. The list also cites tools for recognizing and translating foreign languages; for converting measurements and dates; for identifying formats and types of visual materials; and for dating images.

The selected resources represent free Web sites used by Library of Congress staff to catalog material in a general documentary picture collection. Many of the sites feature visual images for easy comparison to what you are cataloging. Suggestions for additional resources are welcome. Subscription-based internet resources are also valuable and should be consulted when available. Most subscription databases at the Library of Congress are available only for on-site access.

For a list of standards and tools used to create catalog records, see the "Visual Materials: Cataloging and Processing Bibliography."

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.

Table of Contents


Digital Librarian: A Librarian's Choice of the Best of the Web

Flickr (pictures of many places and events)

Google Maps (for geographic information and also photos of buildings)

Internet Public Library

OAIster (University of Michigan) -- digital images from many sources

Picture Catalogs Online


Wikimedia Commons (freely usable media files)

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia

Art and Architecture

ArchNet - Islamic Architecture (Massachusets Institute of Technology)

Catalogue of American Engravings (American Antiquarian Society)

Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Early American Paintings (Worcester Art Museum)

Great Buildings Collection

Legendary Lighthouses

Maritime Heritage Program

Mother of all Art History (University of Michigan)


Creators of Pictures (Architects, Artists, and Photographers)

AIA Historical Directory of American Architects

Art Cyclopedia -- famous painters, sculptors, and photographers and art movements

Don Markstein’s Toonopedia (cartoons and characters) (biographical information for photographers)

Getty Union List of Artist Names Online

World Wide Arts Resources -- art history resources for artists and art movements

People Shown in Pictures

American Presidents: Life Portraits (C-SPAN)

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress

Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database (National Park Service)

First Ladies (C-SPAN)

Find a Grave

Social Security Death Index

Who's Alive and Who's Dead

Clothing and Dress

Costumer's Manifesto

La Couturière Parisienne (Middle Ages to 1950s)

Solemates: The Century in Shoes (20th century)

Conversion Tables (Dates, Measures, and Transliterations)

ALA-LC Romanization Tables

Dates across several calendars (Calendrical Calculator)

Date and day of week in different years

Measuring unit conversions

Roman numeral conversion (Lee’s Useless Roman Numeral Converter)

Roman numeral conversion

Time and date (includes world clock)

Dictionaries, Thesauruses, and Translators


Archival and Records Terminology (Society of American Archivists)

Art Terms

British Museum Object Names Thesaurus

Dictionary, Thesaurus, & Translator

MeSH (Medical Subject Headings)


Multilingual Glossary for Art Librarians

National Agricultural Library thesaurus:

Omniglot: A Guide to Written Language



Google translate



Columbia Gazetteer of the World

David Rumsey Map Collection (historical maps)

Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names Online (“places important to art and architecture”)

Geographic Names Information System (United States Board on Geographic Names; select “Search Domestic Names)

GeoNet Names Server (for features outside the United States)

Place name dictionaries (University of Washington Libraries)

University of Texas Map Collection

History and Culture

United States

Chronicling America (Historic American Newspapers, to 1922)


Internet Public Library (Search for American History)



General History

Library of Congress Country Studies

Middle East Virtual Library

Timelines of History

Victorian Dictionary (text and images, with maps for orientation to 19th century London)

Media Identification

Alternative Photography

Art & Architecture Thesaurus

Atlas of Analytical Signatures of Photographic Processes

Digital Print Identification

Graphic Witness (illustrations and political cartoons)

Graphics Atlas (print and photograph identification tools)

Moving image genre list

Thesaurus for Graphic Materials II: Genre & Physical Characteristic Terms

Works on Paper at the Spencer


Encyclopedia Mythica

Greek Mythology Link (Iconography)

Mythography (Greek, Roman, and Celtic)

Theoi Project: Guide to Greek Gods, Spirits, & Monsters


Animals A to Zoo

Mountain peaks

National parks (United States)

Plants database

Performing Arts



Theater on Broadway (Internet Broadway Database)


Catholic Encyclopedia

Jewish Virtual Library

Religious Studies Web Guide

Saints and Angels


Baseball (Society for American Baseball Research—players, teams, and parks)

Baseball parks

Baseball players




HubcapCafe (Antique and Classic Car Photo Galleries)

Serious Wheels (class to contemporary cars)


Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

Great Lakes Ships (photo gallery)

Historic Naval Ships

Passenger Ships of the Great Lakes

U.S. Naval Institute

Compiled by Arden Alexander and Woody Woodis, Catalogers, Technical Services Section, 2004. Last updated: December 2013

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  February 10, 2017
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