Child Artists at Work

There is a well-known quote by Pablo Picasso, which goes like this: Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. Perhaps these words appeal to me because they touch on the delightful imagination a child possesses, and how freely that creativity is expressed through art with […]

Pictures that Make Us Happy

The Prints and Photographs Division’s collections include images that evoke every possible emotion. This year’s International Day of Happiness – designated by the United Nations to recognize that “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal” and to help more people meet that goal –  felt like a fitting time to take an informal […]

Celebrating Harriet Tubman and the Emily Howland Album

Last week, Prints and Photographs Division staff had an opportunity to participate in Washington, D.C.’s first annual celebration of Harriet Tubman Day, which represented several very satisfying convergences. The official Harriet Tubman Day is March 10th, the date of Tubman’s death (the date of her birth is not known). The celebration was held March 8th  […]

Remembering the African American Soldiers of the 9th U.S. Volunteer Infantry

The following is a guest post by Jonathan Eaker, Reference Librarian, Prints & Photographs Division. Recently while going through some military photos in our collection I came across a set of twelve undigitized group portraits showing African American soldiers at the time of the Spanish American War. The photos launched me on research about a […]

Presidential Sweethearts

In the course of searching for a specific photograph of President Woodrow Wilson for a reference question, I came across the image below, and couldn’t resist it! Between the heart-shaped frames, the huge grins on both the President and the First Lady, and the addition of a cupid holding up two hearts perched in the […]

Caught Our Eyes: An American Balloon Ascension in Japan

The first time I browsed through the Prints and Photographs Reading Room Graphics File, I came across a reference copy of a striking triptych of Japanese woodblock prints depicting a crowd of spectators in Western dress observing a balloon ascension. When I looked the image up in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog and saw digitized […]

Camera and Locomotive: Two Tracks across the Continent: Stereographs as Souvenirs

The following is the fourth in a series of guest posts by Micah Messenheimer, Assistant Curator of Photography, Prints and Photographs Division, that discuss the parallel development of two technologies in the 19th century: railroads and photography. A previous blog post examined Andrew J. Russell’s background as a photographer during the Civil War and his […]

Profiling Portraits: The Art of the Self-Portrait

In the first entry in this occasional series, Profiling Portraits, we examined occupational portraits, a type of portrait designed to tell the viewer a specific fact about the sitter: their occupation. We will now look at another type of portrait, one which is very popular today, thanks to the advent of smartphones with cameras: self-portraits, […]