Prints in the Parlor is an online resource designed to provide access to engraved gift book illustrations in the Society's collection. Funded by a generous grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities (2009-2012), Prints in the Parlor provides multi-point access to over 3,600 images inside American gift books published between 1826 and 1850.

Gift books reached the peak of their popularity in the United States during the 1840s and '50s. Based on a British tradition, the elegantly bound books contain poetry, prose, and illustrations and were intended to be read at home in the parlor. They were marketed for the holiday trade, and often came out in November with titles such as the Christmas Gift from Fairyland or The Friendship's Offering and Winter's Wreath. There are several good bibliographies of American gift books (see below) that break down the authors, texts, and titles of the illustrations.

Each engraved gift book image is cataloged individually into our general catalog. The images are searchable by key words in the description, assigned subject headings, and also by engraver and artist. All illustrations are digitized.

Prints in the Parlor provides visual indexing for this body of illustration.

Online tutorial & search tips for using Prints in the Parlor.

The project also provided cataloging and digitization for a portion of the Society's separately published engravings .


Faxon, Frederick W. Literary Annuals and Gift Books: A Bibliography, 1823-1903. 1912. Reprint. Pinner, U.K.: Private Libraries Association, 1973.

Kirkham, E. Bruce, and John W. Fink, comps. Indices to American Literary Annuals and Gift Books, 1825-1865. New Haven, Conn.: Research Publications, 1975. Includes full tables of contents and lists of illustrations from the almost five hundred titles listed in Thompson’s bibliography, with author, engraver, title, and other indexes.

Thompson, Ralph. American Literary Annuals & Gift Books, 1825-1865. 1936. Reprint. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1967.



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