Helping a patron search for images of dress styles from the turn of the century for their school report? Want to see what an electric car looked like in the 1970s? Or maybe you need photographic evidence of a building that you swear used to be somewhere so you can win a bet with your friends?
Look no further than the Library of Congress (LOC) Prints & Photograph collection!
This collection has records for over 1 million photographs, prints and drawings dating back over 1,000 years. The majority of the collection is primarily from the 19th & 20th centuries and covers a large span of topics, including: architecture, portraits, military, sports and daily life.
Quickly narrow down your search by subject, format, collection, date, contributor, etc., with the easily-accessible filters in the left-hand column. Then download high-quality versions of the images you find – from JPEG to PNG to TIFF.
And when you find one image you like…
…scroll down for additional suggestions for images related to that record.
One downside of this valuable site that must be mentioned is how often this message appears:
“Full online access to this resource is only available at the Library of Congress.” Records with this message are such a tease, though sometimes the metadata included in the record can be very helpful. Other times, these listings can link you to additional useful images or collections that are available to view full-scale images online.
Fortunately, there is a way to avoid this dreaded message altogether: use the “Access Condition” filter on the left to select “Available Online.” This narrows the results to show only records that have viewable images. Huzzah!
While the LOC Prints & Photographs collection is helpful to search, it is equally as fun to browse.
There are curated collections available. Some are cumbersome to navigate (e.g. the Lewis Carroll Scrapbooks and Prairie Settlement collections) but others are very easy to access (e.g. African American Photographs Assembled for 1900 Paris Exposition & Aaron Copeland Collection). In the image below, you can see that certain collections have links below the descriptions that say “Collection Items.” Those are the collections that are easier to navigate.
I personally enjoyed searching for historical images of the Pittsburgh region. My favorite record find: “Quack doctor, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania”
I am dying to know: who wrote the caption card from which this item was named? When? What led to this description?
Hopefully your research leads to more answers than questions! Happy searching!
Richelle @ Sewickley Public Library