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New LibGuide for Finding Native American Visual Resources

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Library of Congress staff members compile subject guides to help researchers get a better sense of the contents of the collections on a particular subject — and to find those resources. The Library of Congress recently launched the first batch of guides in a new format, utilizing the LibGuides platform, which we hope will make learning about the collections a bit easier.

The Prints & Photographs Division’s first guide published in the new format aims to help researchers who wish to find images related to American Indian history and culture, a strength of the Division’s holdings. In addition to viewing the overview text on the right side of the introductory page, visitors to the website can select topics on the left-hand navigation bar – Selected Collections, Searching for Images, Major Reference Works and Related Resources –  to explore further. Be sure to browse through the images in the Featured Content gallery at the bottom of the Introduction page to see examples of the kinds of images you might find in the collections.

Screenshot of introductory page to “Native American History and Culture: Finding Pictures” guide.

Follow the Selected Collections link to learn about some of the specific collections in the Prints & Photographs Division that include Native American-related images. In some cases these collections are unified under a common category, for example Documentary Surveys or Newspaper and Magazine Photograph Collections.

Under Documentary Surveys, for example, you will see a list of collections grouped together. The common thread running through these materials is that they provide perspectives on people and places across the United States. At the top of the list you will see the Edward S. Curtis Collection, consisting of works by Curtis, who spent thirty years photographing members of Native communities across the United States, believing he was in a race against time to document what he thought were disappearing cultures.

Cropped screenshot of Selected Collections page from “Native American History and Culture: Finding Pictures” guide.
Members of the Native American Women Warriors, a Pueblo, Colorado-based association of active and retired American Indians in U.S. military service, at a Colorado Springs Native American Inter Tribal Powwow and festival in that central Colorado city, 2015. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith.

The surveys also include works by photographer Carol M. Highsmith, which provide evidence of the enduring strength of Native communities in the United States today. Add to that the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscape Survey Collection, and the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection and you will see descriptions of a diverse group of collections.

Read about the other materials listed under Selected Collections and you will learn about materials related to Native Americans in a variety of formats, including photographs, engravings, lithographs, posters, stereograph cards and architectural drawings, all created from a range of perspectives.

Select Searching for Images on the left-hand navigation bar to learn about different tools and strategies for searching. Although the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog provides some amount of description for about 95% of the materials in the Prints & Photographs Division’s collections, it is by no means the only tool for finding descriptions of collection material. This section points you to other search tools such as card indexes, a published guide indexing groups of American Indian-related images, and more.

The Major Reference Works section includes a list of publications that either make strong use of Library of Congress images related to Native American history and culture, or otherwise provide good information about visual resources related to Native communities. Follow the Related Resources link to learn about other visual resources as well as resources in other formats — sound recordings, moving image material and textual documentation — at the Library of Congress and at other institutions.

If you have any questions about the guide or the Library’s resources in this area you can click on the Ask a Librarian logo on the left side of any page of the guide to fill out a form and send us your questions. We look forward to hearing from you.

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