The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) provides access to over a million digitized images, including photographs, fine and popular prints and drawings, posters, and architectural and engineering drawings. While there are collections with an international scope, the 70 collections are particularly rich in materials produced in and about the history and people of the United States.
From the PPOC homepage you can search across all collections or click through to an individual collection. Collections are listed in alphabetical order by title. Click the View All with Description link at the top of the list to review a brief summary of collection contents, approximate number of images, dates of coverage, and digitization and online display information.
The digitized images are often available in several formats: .gif (thumbnail images), jpeg (often both lower and higher resolution) and .tiff, which offers the highest resolution. The majority of PPOC collections have had all images digitized and most collections contain images that display outside of the Library of Congress. For the collections that have display restrictions—usually because of copyright issues—usually you can see at least a thumbnail image. Collections that have complete display restrictions outside of the Library of Congress are listed below.
No images display outside the Library of Congress
- Cartoon Drawings 1794-1994 (Note: other cartoon collections allow display outside the Library)
- Cartoon Drawings: Herblock Collection (Note: many Herblock cartoons are available via the Online Exhibitions section)
- Case Books
- College Women’s Association of Japan Print Show Collection
- Korab Collection
- Look Collection
- Posters: Spanish Civil War Posters
- Posters: Yanker Poster Collection
You may conduct simple or advanced searches from the PPOC homepage or from within an individual collection. To refine a search, click the Advanced link to the right of the search box GO button.
Advanced Search Options
The screenshot above shows the search results for a basic search of George Washington across collections. You see the total number of results for the search terms entered in red. The default view is list view. Below is the first results page for a refined advanced search (George Washington search in subject fields) with Gallery View and Larger image available anywhere selected.
Downloading & Linking to Images
Click the image title to access the bibliographic record and the image to access links to various image files. Right click on an image link to save/download an image. The URL for the image bibliographic record is listed in the browser address bar. The URL for the larger image is listed below the file links. For more details, check out the Library’s downloading and linking tips and Frequently Asked Questions.
- Remember to search using keywords that represent historically relevant language.
- Capitalization does not matter but punctuation and spacing do.
- Do not use articles (a, an, the) and conjunctions (and, or, but, etc.) as keywords.
- Enter the words in the order in which you expect them to appear.
- Limit yourself to 5 or fewer keywords.
- Try using wildcards to enable the search to include variations on a word (e.g., child* retrieves child, children, childlike).
- If you found an item that’s close but not quite what you’re looking for, look at the item’s bibliographic record and click the links under the Related heading in the left column if available.
- Try selecting from lists of terms in the Browse By options in the left column of the PPOC homepage.
- You cannot search by location but you can limit a search to search the subject fields only.
- If you want to search by time period, try a cross-collection search and selecting Photo, Print, Drawing from the left column and then sorting results by time period, which may lead to clues that help direct your search in the PPOC.