Library of Congress Collection

Overview

Otto H Bacher; Women in restaurant in high building, 1903Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of the United States Congress. The library's initial core collection of 3000 volumes was destroyed in 1814 when invading British troops set fire to the Capitol Building. Thomas Jefferson offered his personal library as a replacement in 1815, and his collection of 6487 books became the foundation of the library's collections. From these beginnings, the Library of Congress has grown into the largest library in the world, with more than 134 million items on approximately 530 miles of bookshelves. These vast holdings comprise more than 32 million books and other printed materials, 2.8 million recordings, 12.5 million photographs, 5.3 million maps, 5.5 million music items and 59.5 million manuscripts. Within the Prints and Photographs Division alone, there are more than 13.7 million visual images, including photographs, prints, drawings, and posters. These materials provide a comprehensive visual record of the history and culture of the United States. Selections from the collections of the Prints and Photographs Division are represented in ARTstor with over 20,000 images, mainly historical photographs, but also including drawings and prints.

The bulk of the collection is made up of materials relating to Arnold Genthe (1869-1942), whose studio archive was purchased by the library in 1943. After immigrating to San Francisco from Germany, Genthe taught himself photography and established a portrait studio, specializing in soft-focus portraits of society women, artists, dancers, and actors. He also documented San Francisco's Chinatown and the earthquake and fire that devastated the city in 1906. Genthe eventually moved to New York in 1911, where he continued to shoot portrait commissions, such as those for Greta Garbo, Arturo Toscanini, John D. Rockefeller, and presidents Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. He also produced studies of dancers, such as Anna Pavlova and Isadora Duncan, travel views throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States, and reproductions of works of art. Genthe was an early experimenter in the Autochrome color photography process, so examples of color photography may be found among the majority of black-and-white images in the collection, which contains over 16,000 negatives, transparencies, lantern slides, and color autochromes.

Selections from the collections of the Prints and Photographs Division are represented in ARTstor with over 20,000 images, mainly historical photographs, but also including drawings and prints.


The remainder of the collection in ARTstor is made up of images from the Cabinet of American Illustration, which contains approximately 4,000 drawings originally produced as illustrations for books and periodicals, primarily between 1880-1910. The collection was established in 1932 on the initiative of William Patten, art editor for Harper's Magazine during the 1880s and 1890s. The original art works — illustrations for magazines, novels, and children's books, cartoons, cover designs, and sketches for posters — document what many consider to be the golden age of American illustration, from the 1880s through the 1920s. Over 200 artists are represented in the collection, including F.O.C. Darley, Thomas Nast, Charles Dana Gibson, Arthur Burdett Frost, and Oliver Herford. Also well represented are notable female illustrators, such as Elizabeth Shippen Green, Alice Barber Stephens, Jessie Willcox Smith, Charlotte Harding, and Rose O'Neill.

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Collection information

Total size of collection* 20,661
Percentage of completion 100%
Search terms loc genthe OR loc cabinet illustration
Collection URL http://library.artstor.org/library/collection/loc

* Image totals should be regarded as an approximation until a given collection is 100% complete. Users should also bear in mind that the number of images available to them may vary from country to country, reflecting ARTstor’s approach to addressing an international copyright landscape that itself varies from country to country.

Last updated: May 14, 2008

Image Credits

Otto H Bacher; Women in restaurant in high building, 1903; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

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