Why use the AAS?

Print Sources - Reference & Bibliographies (note: available in Reading Room for use)

The Grove encyclopedia of American Art 5 vol. OUP, 2011.

The dime novel companion: a source book J. Randolph Cox. Greenwood Press, 2000.

American Renaissance in New England ed. Wesley Mott. Gale Group, 2001. [note: this entire series is extremely helpful]

Bibliography of American literature in periodicals, 19th century. Richard Samuel West and Steven Lomazow. Periodyssey Press, 1997.

Bibliography on American Prints compiled by Georgia Barnhill. AHPCS, Oak Knoll, 2006.

How to identify prints: a complete guide to manual and mechanical processes from woodcut to inkjet. Bamber Gascoigne. Thames & Hudson, 2004.

Secondary Sources

Heneghan, Bridget T. Whitewashing America: material culture and race in the antebellum imagination / Bridget T. Heneghan.

American literature and the culture of reprinting, 1834-1853 / Meredith L. McGill.

Everyday ideas : socioliterary experience among antebellum New Englanders / Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray.

How did I find these?

Don't forget (the hard to find): periodicals

Subscription Databases - need more?

  • At AAS (and other academic libraries):
    Literature Resource Center
    Massachusetts Newsstand
  • Not at AAS (but at your own library and useful):
    MLA International Bibliography
  • At AAS (but likely NOT at your own library):
    Readex (Early American Imprints, Newspapers, Broadsides and Ephemera)
    American Periodicals Series

Internet Resources:

Wright American Fiction

AAS Digital Image Archive - GIGI

Need more?: Try CHAViC

Examples and tips:

AAS Online Catalog

The AAS Catalog

Two types of searches:

Basic Search (can limit to Graphic Arts)
Guided Search (more effective for searching for graphic arts items)
With both types of searches can use limits, (but this is better for book, pamphlet and manuscript material)


Many collections are not in the online catalog. This includes US Views, stereographs, games, sheet music, maps, some engravings, photographs, postcards, American Portrait Prints, Carte-de-visite - ask!

There are inventories for these collections available here; you can search inventories of items not cataloged in the AAS OPAC. Best to do a Google Search of the AAS pages (domain search)

Example of what you might find:

CDV Image of Frederick Douglas -

Inventories can be frustrating and rewarding
A new illustrated online inventory Paul Revere Collection

Sheet music - uncataloged but gorgeous collection
Currently just have subject classification (not complete and no inventory)

Thinking about the AAS OPAC, the goods/bads:


Project on food images


There are limits of controlled vocabulary - currently many graphic arts items not full-level cataloged

Expanding your search - coming up with other terms (do a web of ideas, synonyms, what might appear in notes field, etc.)

Genre/form list can be exceedingly helpful

Using and manipulating the OPAC:


You are doing a project on 19th-century pornographic images and want to see how this topic is visually represented in literature and image

Might first visit the OPAC

Try - nude (kw) Quick Limit to: Graphic Arts.
This is one way to try to get to the genre (Erotica) if you hadn't used the list.

Once you know this - open a builder search

Know now that its erotica (under genre). Can try:
Erotica (genre keyword) + Lithf (keyword anywhere)

To get more results

There are several ways to search by call numbers for Graphic Arts collections.

Two of the most important are:

Broadsides = BDSDS

Lithographs = Lithf? (note there are different sizes on the lithographs so should denote with a ?)

Can also keyword search by

First line of Broadside verse

If you were just interested in Graphic Arts items, this would be the best way to find just lithographs.

After you fill out call slip would retrieve items such as:

Why show this? - not all graphic arts items are considered graphics in the online catalog
Example - searching with BDSDS + Erotica yields different results

Some items are currently cataloged better than others (as with dessert print). Notes fields can be rich but subjective to cataloger

Example, with same search above also get:


i.e. couldn't search for color, and dependent on word "coyly"

Still another way to find images, search description of item, can look inside books


Erotica (genre keyword) + plates (keyword anywhere) = 8 results
OR keep expanding your vocabulary you use (and how you use them) to try:
Sex (subject keyword) + plates (keyword anywhere) = 41 results

Metaphor for the online catalog?

Physically accessing the items (note - will soon have electronic system):

Once have call number, can fill out the AAS call slip to get images

The AAS Call Slip Needs:

  • Call Number
  • Author (Engraver, Lithographer)
  • Title
  • Date

Another valuable resource is the Catalogue of American Engravings (CAEP)

Is a Union List - will tell you what is at AAS and what is not (location)

Drawback? Just Engravings (inside books & periodicals)


You are studying allegorical representations of America in image and literature during the Revolutionary Era

Search for "America and Symbol" under Subject browse

First hit is for "Able Doctor" image which is an engraving inside the Royal American Magazine

May not otherwise have found it in general OPAC

When make out call slip and item is retrieved this is what is inside:

Accessing the items off-site and GIGI:

At institution with access to ABE, Digital Evans, Digital Shawshoemaker, (and eventually EAN) can follow the Linked Resource at the bottom of the record

Only for Broadsides and Ephemera items (used to be - currently working on Digital Image Archive - GIGI)


Looking for a broadside contemporary of the Boston Massacre. You know you've seen it referenced in a bibliography of woodcuts. While you CAN search for Relief, cannot for woodcut. Try out the bibliographer name:

Reilly (Keyword Anywhere) + 1770 (Imprint Date Keyword) + Boston Massacre (Subject Keyword)

If were at a campus where they have access to Readex Digital products could follow it and it looks like:

Does NOT include -- most engravings (except for CAEP), lithographs, uncataloged collections

Builder Search


Uncle Tom's Cabin.

We want to see if there are lithograph prints depicting scenes of this popular 19th century text; we want to see ones which were not contemporaneous of its publication, but ones based around the time of the Civil War

Will yield bibliographic two records for one such lithograph

Uncle Tom's cabin in other formats (game, paperdolls, etc.)

Any questions?

Jackie Penny
508 471-2126
or stop by the Reference Desk from 1-5 on Tuesday afternoons


Prepared by Jackie Penny
October 2011