Top of page

Many kittens of different colors play on grass
Yard of Cats. Augusta, Maine, 1895. (Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress)

No “Kitten” Around: Cats in the Library of Congress Collection

Share this post:

This post was written by Dianne Choie, Educational Programs Specialist at the Library of Congress.

Cats have been domesticated for thousands of years (read all about it in this Library resource!), but the reach of the internet has allowed for more people than ever to share their love of furry felines. I personally have an endless list of favorite cat memes, videos, and photos online; do you?

Many kittens of different colors play on grass
Yard of Cats. Augusta, Maine, 1895. (Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress)

We here in the Library’s Informal Learning Office also find cats to be a fascinating topic to share about with kids and families, digging into their history as our pets, their communication, their purring, cat fun facts, and historical cat tales (or are they tails?).

A drawing of two sleepy cats on a chair.
Cats / after Miss E.C. Beaux. Thomas Hunter, 1874. (Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress)

You can also find a wealth of cat content in our online catalog, like this 19th century treatise on cats from Thailand:

Two drawings of cats each with a decorative shape drawn around it.
Treatise on Cats. Thailand, 1800-1899. (World Digital Library, Library of Congress).

This woodcut print of a cat dates back even earlier—it’s from the 16th century!

Black and white drawing of a cat pouncing
[Cat]. Schreiber collection of European book illustrations, 1569-1579. (Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress)
People have long been interested in kittens, too, as evidenced by this Japanese woodblock print from 1720.

Black and white drawing of a cat nursing kittens
[Domestic cat nursing kittens]. Morikuni Tachibana, 1720. (Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress)
There are also fanciful images of cats at play across the Library’s collections.

A drawing of many cats in nightgowns playing on and around beds.
[Cats in the dormitory]. Louis Wain, c 1906. (Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress)
You can read the entirety of this somewhat-strange digitized children’s story about cats having a party (and getting into some trouble for it after):

A green and pink book cover with the title The Cats Party
The cats’ party. McLoughlin Bros., inc., 1871. (Library of Congress)

The Library also has this 1940s film that shows the birth of five kittens and their learning to walk and play while being watched over by their cat parents (footage of the kittens’ birth begins at 3:16). Prepare for extreme cuteness!

I was inspired by all this cat content to try to recreate some of our collection images with my own cats, Reggie and Oliver. Let me know what you think of the results!

A white man in a heavy overcoat and military style hat holds a tabby cat
Tyger [i.e. Tiger], White House cat with Benjamin Fink. 1924. National Photo Company Collection (Library of Congress)
A woman in a blue coat and pink hat holds a black and white cat
Reggie, apartment cat. (Photo courtesy of Dianne Choie.)
A black cat sits on a chair and looks at a clock. Above the cat are the words The Book of the Cat
The book of the cat. Bonsall, E. F., and Humphrey, Mabel. New York : Fredrick A. Stokes Co., 1903. (Library of Congress)
A black cat stands on a chair looking up at a clock.
The look of the Oliver. (Photo courtesy of Dianne Choie.)
A woman with a sparkly headband across her forehead holds a cat.
Holch, Anna, Miss, with Buzzer the cat, portrait photograph. Arnold Genthe, ca. 1913. (Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress)
A woman in a colorful shirt with a sparkly headband across her forehead holds a black and white cat.
Choie, Dianne, Ms., with Reggie the cat. (Photo courtesy of Dianne Choie.)
A drawing of a woman in a white dress holding two cats. They are in front of the words Harper's May.
Harper’s May / Edward Penfield. Edward Penfield, 1896. (Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress)
A woman in a colorful dress holds a black cat and a black and white cat.
Reggie and Oliver. (Photo courtesy of Dianne Choie.)

I have to admit, Reggie and Oliver were not always the most willing cat models! I actually used Photoshop to make it look like I was holding both of them at once in the photo above. I took one photo where I was holding Reggie and combined it with another photo where I was holding Oliver. It’s okay if you have to tinker with your image like I did.

Do you and your family have pets at home? You might want to try your hand at recreating images together, too! Don’t worry if your pets or other co-models need some help like Reggie and Oliver did. Changing your clothes, using props, and/or adding a background digitally can also help make your photo look like the one you’re imitating. Remember to pay attention to your body position and facial expression too! Hope you have fun looking through the Library of Congress’s collection of images and finding ones you can recreate yourself.

Not sure where to begin? These resources can help:

Comments

  1. Love the emulation photos! You did a great job. Now I’ll try it using a primary source.

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.


Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.