Center for Historic American Visual Culture (CHAViC)


In order to support teaching and research on American visual culture through the third quarter of the nineteenth century, we hope these links to institutions and projects will assist individuals in finding sources appropriate to their needs.  In order to provide some order to this universe, this section is divided into several sections listed below.

Quick Links:


AAS Visual Culture Resources:

Online Catalogs and Databases:

Art and Visual Culture Portals:



Fine and Popular Image Collections:

Resources & Research Tools:

Lesson Plans:

Contemporary Artist Projects:



AAS Visual Culture Resources

AAS Online Catalog

> for use in searching lithographs, broadsides and ephemera, as well as collections containing visual material such as newspapers, periodicals, manuscripts, books and pamphlets

AAS Catalogue of American Engravings

> a union catalog, CAEP describes book and periodicals illustrations as well as separately published engravings up to 1820

AAS Finding Aids

> many AAS Graphic Arts collections are not included in the online catalog or CAEP; finding aids, many illustrated, are alphabetically listed

AAS Online Exhibitions

> AAS utilizes the world wide web as an exhibit space to showcase historians & scholars research; many exhibitions are content-rich for visual material

AAS Digital Resources, A-Z

> Databases with AAS Materials (such as ABE, America's Historical Newspapers, Early American Imprints Series I & II) are available from any AAS terminal; AAS also subscribes to databases with visual material such as HarpWeek and Accessible Archives

Teach U.S.

> a website created by the AAS that features text and images from the collection together with information about each object and suggested activities for the classroom


> Graphic Interface of Gathered Images at the AAS is a database of images. Representatives include all the Society’s curatorial collections; for many of the graphic materials, links are provided from the online catalog into GIGI, but custom searching is possible within the image archive

More Catalogs, Databases & Research Tools

Library of Congress Prints & Photographs

> The LOC has over 14 million images; this site features links to the Online Catalog and helpful Researcher's Toolbox. Many records have digital reproductions of the items; includes strong holdings of political cartoons, sheet music and photography


> In addition to the Library, Archive and Research Catalogs of the Smithsonian, this site also features the Art Inventories catalog which is a database of American paintings and sculpture; the National Portrait Gallery also features an online Catalog of American Portraits

New York Public Library Digital Gallery

> Access to over 700,000 digitized images in the NYPL collections; including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs and more

Lafayette: Database of American Art

> A database of American Art Works by United States Artists from French National Collections, 1620-1940 includes records on 1,700 objects (note: no prints or photographs) 

Harvard's Visual Information Access

> A searchable union catalog wtih images from paintings and drawings to maps and designs; reflects items in Harvard University repositories; new information and sources frequently added

MET Works of Art Database

> A database of 3,100 artworks and related items housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York with research images of many of the items

Getty Databases

> A portal for art resources as well as various inventories and databases available at the Getty. Searchable catalog of items at the Museum

Art Institute of Chicago

> A portal to art resources available on campus as well as access to Archival Image Collections, a database of the collections of the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries


> Search feature to work through cultural collections of Europe; digitized images from books, films, paintings and archives from European repositories

Graphics Atlas

> In addition to a tour, there are also comparative and identification tools for graphics items. This site was created by the Image Permanence Institute

More Collections, Exhibition Portals & Resources

American Historical Print Collectors Society

> This organization publishes Imprint, a journal devoted to studies on American prints through the nineteenth century.  There is also general information on the website about prints and links to other organizations

The Atlantic Slave Trade and
Slave Life in the Americas:
A Visual Record

> The approximately 1,200 images in this collection have been selected from a range of sources, most of them from the period of slavery. This collection is a tool and resource that can be used by anyone interested in the experiences of Africans who were enslaved and transported to the Americas and the lives of their descendants

Ballyhoo! Posters as Portraiture

> Based on an exhibition by the National Portrait Gallery, this site examines posters as portraiture with resources for teachers and digital images of the pieces used in the exhibit

Boston and Beyond

> An online exhibition and resource of maps from the Normal B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library with cartographic materials from the 15th century through the present

Currier and Ives Perspectives on America

> This project, at the Springfield Museums, Springfield, MA, includes a television documentary series, current exhibitions, and educational programs focused around Currier & Ives prints. Online is the documentary's trailer and lesson plans


> The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa provides demonstrations of woodcuts, etching, and lithography as well as many images of the United States and Canada; there is a page devoted to Prints and Drawings Techniques

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

> featuring more than 20,000 digital images with a focus on 18th and 19th century maps and cartographic material. Another image source is the Farber Gravestone collection with digital images and information for more than 13,500 images on 9,000 gravestones

Harry T. Peters Collection of American Lithographs

> located at the National Museum of American History, this collection is part of the Smithsonian Institution. Peters was the foremost collector of 19th-century American lithographs in the first half of the 20th-century

Picturing U.S. History

> This website provides online "Lessons in Looking," a guide to web resources, forums, essays, reviews, and classroom activities to help teachers incorporate visual evidence into their classrooms

Sheet Music Consortium

> There is a large body of imagery on the covers of 19th- and 20th-century sheet music.  This project combines the holdings of several libraries.  Another resource is the Lester Levy Collection at Johns Hopkins University

What is a Print?

> This animated demonstration on making prints on the Museum of Modern Art website in New York provides a descriptions of various graphic processes:  woodcuts, etching, and lithography 

Ephemera Society of America

> This organization publishes a newsletter and journal with essays on ephemera.  The website contains general descriptions of types of material classified as ephemera and has an index to the contents of its publications

Prints & Photographs of the Boston Athenæum

> The Athenaeum is in the process of adding digital images to its cataloged prints and photographs.  The focus of the collection is Boston and its surrounding region; also search for books, maps, broadsides and art on paper in Athena

The California Heritage Collection

> Online Archive of California containing 30,000 images illustrating California's history and culture from thirty California repositories including the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley

Connecticut History Online

> A digital collection of over 15,000 digital primary sources, together with interpretive and educational material; includes the collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, Mystic Seaport, Connecticut State Library, and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut

George Eastman House

> in Rochester, NY the Eastman House has an excellent collection of early American photography.  There is an ongoing effort to digitize the collection, including historical images

Library Company of Philadelphia

> a rich collection of visual material relating to Philadelphia.  Many collections of prints, ephemera, and photographs have been digitized.  Access is through the prints and photographs page and WolfPAC; of particular interest is the Wainwright Collection of Philadelphia Lithography

Collections Search of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

> Some reproductions of early American prints and drawings; records for material available via search of collections page. The paintings are well represented with images

Inspiring Visions 

> The Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, has a remarkable collection of paintings, prints, and photographs of the 19th and 20th centuries. On this page there are also suggestions for teaching with images and worksheets for students

Repicturing the Past: Picturing the Present

> This exhibition examines how artists from the late 19th-c-present have explored contemporary concerns by challenging, redeeming, or personalizing historical subjects; featured Kara Walker's series of prints related to Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War

Carol Flueckiger's Historical Works

> Contemporary works informed by American history; incorporates primary sources into textiles using the process of cyanotype; chronological slideshow of her works available; recipient of a Jay and Deborah Last Fellowship

Baker Library - the 19th-c trade card

> The Baker Library at Harvard Univeristy has more than 8,000 trade cards in its holdings of which 1,000 are cataloged and digitized. The visual online catalog offers access to these records and the Baker site features an online exhibition.

Becker Collection - Drawings of the American Civil War

> Availability to search and view scans of the Becker Collection - 650 drawings by Joseph Becker & colleagues many of which were unpublished; accompanying is the online exhibition for "First Hand" at the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College.

Philadelphia On Stone

> Online resource, dictionary, catalog and exhibit of the first fifty years of commercial lithography in Philadelphia from the years 1828-1878. In-depth survey includes a digital catalog of over 1300 prints.

Disappearing Acts: Printing with Letterpress

> Slideshow displaying the step-by-step art of letterpress printing with Phil Abel at his shop Hand and Eye

Clio: Picturing the Past

> Online exhibit which features text and illustrations from Gregory Pfitzer's "Illustrated Histories and the American Imagination, 1840-1900"

Towards a National Cartography: American Mapmaking 1782-1800

> An online exhibit of American maps from the late 18th-c. Exhibit is based on a 2011 exhibit at the Harvard Map Collection and traces the evolution of mapmaking during the formative years after the American Revolution

Jay Paull: Vintage Print Advertisements

> A visual gallery of historic print advertisements from the 19th and 20th centuries; a search feature, ad library, and additional links and resources

Quick Links
Catalog | Login | Digital A-Z

Monday: 9-5
Tuesday: 10-5
Wednesday: 9-5
Thursday: 9-5
Friday: 9-5

Link to AAS Facebook Link to AAS TwitterLink to AAS BlogLink to AAS Instagram   Link to AAS YouTube