Visual and Virtual Opportunities

New York City book campaign. Photo by Abel & Company, 1919. // Photograph shows a woman standing on a pile of books speaking into a megaphone for an American Library Association War Service promotion to collect books for soldiers fighting in Europe.

New York City book campaign. Photo by Abel & Company, 1919. //

Through this blog, staff of the Prints and Photographs Division connect virtually with readers every week with stories about our collections. In the course of this past year, we have tried out new ways to reach out virtually while we are unable to meet in person. To this end, staff throughout the Library have created many hours of virtual orientations, lectures and webinars, and more are on the way.

Our newest virtual offering takes its cue from a longtime series in Picture This called “Double Take.” In that series, we take a deep dive into an image, often spurred by an initial question. Along the way, we convey tips and techniques for uncovering unknown details, hidden stories and more. The idea behind “Double Take” is going live, as well as expanding to include additional staff and new content, thanks to a partnership with our Library colleagues in the Professional Learning and Outreach Initiatives Office. The series kicks off next week, on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 4:00 pm ET.

Read on for several opportunities to interact with and learn from staff of the Prints and Photographs Division, including ongoing virtual orientations and this new series of webinars.

Double Take Series:

The “Double Take” series invites participants to join specialists from the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division, to explore and unravel some of the mystery of intriguing images from the collections. Along the way, the experts will share research strategies, visual literacy techniques, and answer questions.

January 28, 2021 – 4-5PM ET
“White House or Not?”
Kristi Finefield, Reference Specialist, Prints and Photographs Division

Join Reference Specialist Kristi Finefield to look closely at a photo from the Library’s collections, to apply visual literacy and photo research techniques, and finally to answer the question: is this the White House or not?

February 18, 2021 – 4-5PM ET
“Why Was This Picture Made?”
Sara Duke, Curator, Prints and Photographs Division

When examining pictures of the past, sometimes asking the question of “Why?” leads one down an unexpected path. In this session, Sara Duke, Curator of Popular & Applied Graphic Art, will invite participants on an exploration of an image from the Library’s collections, with that question in mind.

March 25, 2021 – 4-5PM ET
“When Was This Photograph Taken?”
Kristi Finefield, Reference Specialist, Prints and Photographs Division

What clues can you use to determine when a picture was made or a photo was taken? In this session, Reference Specialist Kristi Finefield walks attendees through the process of determining the date range of an aerial photograph of Washington, D.C.

April 29, 2021 – 4-5PM ET
“How Should We Index This Image?”
Arden Alexander, Cataloging Specialist, Prints and Photographs Division & Libby McKiernan, Processing Technician, Prints and Photographs Division

Join Cataloging Specialist Arden Alexander and Processing Technician Libby McKiernan on an exploration of the Library of Congress Thesaurus for Graphic Materials (TGM), to learn approaches to describing images, using topical terms, plus ways you can use the TGM for your personal or work collections. The specialists will also invite participants to index some images from the Library’s collections with them.

Visit the Webinars and Workshops page for more details about the sessions and to register.

Frost. Woodcut by Bertha Lum, copyrighted 1920. //

Frost. Woodcut by Bertha Lum, copyrighted 1920. //

Prints & Photographs Virtual Orientations:

For years, reference staff have offered in-person orientations to research in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room, and we have partnered with our curatorial colleagues to take this show on the virtual road, so to speak. Next up:

“Prints & Photographs Virtual Orientation:  Basic Printmaking Processes”

Go to the Prints & Photographs Division’s Tours and Orientations page for info on attending one of the following sessions:
February 9, 2021 – 12-1PM ET 
February 18, 2021 – 3-4PM ET 

Melissa Lindberg, Reference Librarian, Prints and Photographs Division & Katherine Blood, Curator, Prints and Photographs Division

This orientation session will include a brief introduction to basic hand printmaking processes, including woodcuts, etchings, and lithographs, through featured artists’ prints from the Library’s Fine Print collections. Instruction will cover library search tools, online resources, and how to prepare for a future visit to the reading room.

Learn More:

Double Take: A Pennsylvania Avenue Parade Puzzle

A recent Picture This blog post aptly titled: Posing (and Solving) Mysteries: Harris & Ewing Photographs Invite Detective Work included a photo that did invite some additional detective work!  This leads us to this latest entry in our occasional series, Double Take, where we take a much closer look at images in our collections. My […]

Pointing North in the Historic American Buildings Survey Collection

What do a carousel horse, Theodore Roosevelt, and a lighthouse have in common? Look closely at the drawing below from the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial – can you spot two Roosevelts? There is, of course, the large drawing of the Roosevelt statue featured at the memorial on Theodore Roosevelt […]

Caught Our Eyes: Solving a Stork Mystery

Perhaps it’s the impending arrival of April 1, but my first thought upon looking at this photo, placed on our “Caught Our Eyes” sharing wall by reference librarian Jon Eaker, was that it was an April Fool’s joke. As is sometimes the case with photos in our Harris & Ewing collection, where captions range from […]

Focusing on Lewis Hine’s Photographic Technique

The following is a guest post by Ryan Brubacher, Reference Librarian, Prints & Photographs Division Lewis Hine, at a certain point in his career, began to refer to himself as an “interpretive photographer” and not a social photographer as he’d been previously termed. While we might imagine him an investigative photo-journalist by today’s standards, his […]