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About the Prints and Photographs Catalog

The Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) contains catalog records and digital images representing a rich cross-section of still pictures held by the Prints & Photographs Division and other units of the Library. The Library of Congress offers broad public access to these materials as a contribution to education and scholarship.

  • The catalog provides access through group or item records to about 65% of the Division's holdings.
  • About 90% of the records are accompanied by one or more digital images. In some collections, only thumbnail images display to those searching outside the Library of Congress because of potential rights considerations.
  • The primary historical documents described and displayed in this catalog may contain materials offensive to some readers. The Library does not endorse views expressed in the collections but presents the collections as an aid to scholarly research.

Search the P&P Online Catalog

See below for further information on:

Scope of the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog

Although the catalog is added to on a regular basis, it is not a complete listing of the holdings of the Prints & Photographs Division. The catalog:
  • Includes descriptions of selected single images cataloged since 1984 and groups of images cataloged since 1986.
  • Overlaps with some other Library of Congress search systems:
    • Some of the records in the P&P Online Catalog are also found in the LC Online Catalog, but the P&P Online Catalog includes additional records, direct display of digital images, and links to rights, ordering, and background information about the collections represented in the catalog.
    • The P&P Online Catalog includes all the Prints & Photographs Division items represented in American Memory as well as additional materials not included in American Memory.
  • Includes digitized images with many, but not all of the catalog records:
    • In many cases, only "thumbnail" images ("gif" images) will display to those searching outside the Library of Congress because of potential rights considerations, while onsite searchers have access to larger "jpeg" and "tiff" images, as well.
    • There are no digital images for some collections, such as the Look Magazine Photograph Collection.
    • In some collections, only a portion of the images have so far been digitized.
  • Functions primarily as the local online public access catalog for the Prints & Photographs Reading Room. Some instructions and features may not be geared to those accessing the catalog outside of the Library of Congress via Internet.
For further information about the scope of the Prints & Photographs online catalog and how to use it, consult the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog "HELP" document.

Investigating Rights for Materials Found in the Catalog

As a publicly supported institution the Library generally does not own rights to material in its collections. Therefore, it does not charge permission fees for use of such material and cannot give or deny permission to publish or otherwise distribute material in its collections. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the Library's collections.

The nature of historical archival collections means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine. Whenever possible, the Library provides information about copyright owners and other restrictions in the catalog records, other texts that accompany collections, or in "restrictions statements" available by request. The Library provides such information as a service to aid patrons in determining the appropriate use of an item, but that determination ultimately rests with the patron. The Library of Congress is eager to hear from any copyright owners who are not properly identified so that appropriate information may be provided in the future.

For further information, see the document, Copyright and Other Restrictions Which Apply to Publication and Other Forms of Distribution of Images: Sources for Information.

Ordering Copies of Images

Copies of most images listed in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog can be ordered from the Library of Congress Photoduplication Service.
  • If the "Reproduction #" field in a catalog record is filled in, note down the letters and numbers that appear there and the information regarding what the image will be reproduced from that is mentioned in parentheses (e.g. "b&w film copy neg.").
  • If the "Reproduction #" field only contains dashes, take down the letters and numbers that appear in the Call # field. (The original will have to be photographed. The item may need to be retrieved before you place your order.)
  • Include a brief caption for the item.
  • Orders are accepted by mail and by fax. No ordering facility has so far been implemented via email or World Wide Web. Orders need not be submitted on Photoduplication Service order forms, but such order forms are available in PDF format on the Library of Congress web site. The Photoduplication Service estimates that it takes 3-6 weeks to complete an order.
NOTE: If the MEDIUM field lists more than one item, further selection will be required before photographic copies of individual items can be ordered. In general, the Photoduplication Service can provide xeroxes of images made after 1930.

Prints & Photographs Division Resources to Consult When Desired Images are Not Found in the Catalog

Since the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog generally only includes cataloging carried out since the mid-1980s, images organized and described in the decades before that are available only by searching manual files in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room. Also, some images are described in groups, rather than individually. Therefore, many images credited to the Prints and Photographs Division in books and other sources may not yet be found through the online catalog.

The Division has prepared guides, reference aids, and finding aids for particular collections and popularly requested topics, which often list images not yet accessible through the online catalog. Specialized reference aids exist, for instance, on "Women's Activities During the Civil War," "Timber Frame Houses," and on the National Child Labor Committee photographs by Lewis Hine. Some of these documents are accompanied by digitized images.

For further information about how to search for Prints & Photographs Division holdings not represented in the online catalog or in the lists of selected images, consult the "Reference Services" document on the Prints & Photographs Reading Room home page or contact: Prints & Photographs Reading Room, Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave., SE, Washington, D.C. 20540-4730 (telephone: 202-707-6394).

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  October 8, 2004
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