American Images on the Web

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Joins Google Art Project

160 objects from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation‘s collections are now available in the Google Art Project, and include paintings, furniture, silver, Chinese export porcelain, as well as ceramics, prints, maps, textiles, and numismatics.

For more information, check out the Colonial Williamsburg collection in Google Art!

American Museums

James McNeill Whistler Papers Now Available Digitally

The James McNeill Whistler collection (1863–1906, ca. 1940) at the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art is now available online, having been digitized in its entirety in 2012.

The 307 images online include various documents pertaining to the career of Whistler, who was born in the US but worked in London. There are:

39 items from Whistler to various recipients, including 25 letters, 9 telegraphs, 3 invitations, one thank you card and a postcard. The collection also contains 4 letters from others, 7 catalogs of Whistler exhibitions, a note from the back of Whistler’s painting The Beach at Selsey Bill, and a 1906 copy of Wilde v. Whistler: being an acromonious correspondence on art between Oscar Wilde and James A. McNeill Whistler, a pamphlet containing letters originally published in London newspapers between 1885 and 1890.

Several of the items in the collection are signed with Whistler’s butterfly mark. To view digital images from the archive, or to find out more, visit the James McNeill Whistler Collection.

Image source: James McNeill Whistler collection, 1863-1906, circa 1940. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

American Images on the Web Innovative Technology VRC

A Handsome Atlas


Interested in information visualization and/or 19th Century American culture?  Explore “A Handsome Atlas,” a recent project by the Brooklyn Brainery, which displays reproductions of the Statistical Atlases of the United States of America from 1870, 1880, and 1890. Although these maps, charts, and graphs were created more than a hundred years ago, they are surprisingly modern in their display of information.

While the images are all available online through the Library of Congress and a long list on the US Census website, A Handsome Atlas provides a much more elegant interface image viewer that allows for easily viewing the contents of each atlas and zooming in on individual plates. Users have the options to filter by countless subjects pertaining to life in the US—including liquor, lumber, and Lutherans among many others—or to filter by specific categories of visualization devices, including pie charts, radar charts, and treemaps.

Users also have the option to view each plate on the Library of Congress website and to freely download image files in high, medium, or low resolution.

Additionally, the 1880 and 1890 Statistical Atlases were undertaken by Henry Gannett, largely considered to be the father of American mapmaking. The David Rumsey Map Collection contains more than 170 government-sponsored maps, charts, and geological surveys by Gannett. Click here to view.

Via Information Aesthetics

American Luna

JCB Archive of Early American Images in LUNA

The John Carter Brown Library at Brown University shares its digital archive of early American images with LUNA Commons. With over 7,000 images, this collection includes:

graphic representations of the colonial Americas, from Hudson Bay to Tierra del Fuego, drawn entirely from primary sources printed or created between 1492 and ca. 1825.

LUNA Commons collections are contributed by partnering institutions from around the world. Please contact the VRC for a LUNA tutorial.

American Images on the Web

What Is a Community-Based Archives Anyway?

Michelle Caswell of the South Asian American Digital Archive provides a helpful description of community-based archives:

We continue to see SAADA as part of a growing movement of independent grassroots efforts emerging from within communities to collect, preserve, and make accessible records documenting their own histories outside of mainstream archival institutions. These community-based archives serve as an alternative venue for communities to make collective decisions about what is of enduring value to them, to shape collective memory of their own pasts, and to control the means through which stories about their past are constructed.


American Images on the Web

High-Resolution Art Images of the Civil War makes nearly 130 works of art from seven Chicago cultural organizations accessible to the public. While the website is aimed at elementary and high school students, some of its resources may be useful to art historians. The site includes a high-resolution, zoomable gallery of objects as well as an extensive glossary of close to 200 art and historical terms and biographies.

American Images on the Web Innovative Technology Modern - Contemporary

Public Art Archive

The Public Art Archive™, a new project of the Western States Arts Federation, or WESTAF (, is a sophisticated searchable database of public art in the United States. The Archive makes public art and its processes more accessible to the public, displaying images of each piece alongside an extensive description, including audio and video supplementary files when available.

Google maps has been integrated into the Public Art Archive™. Users can see works on a map, get driving or walking directions, and save the map for later use. Cultural tourists can create a map of works that they wish to visit and use a mobile device to access information about a piece while physically standing in front of it.



American Images on the Web Modern - Contemporary Photography

New York Times: The Lively Morgue

The New York Times recently began posting digitized photographs from their “morgue” (or archive) on Tumblr, including the reverse sides with notes from the photographers, notes about how the photograph was used, captions, and more.

We’re eager to share historical riches that have been locked away from public view, and have been awaiting a platform like Tumblr that makes it easy to do so. We hope you’ll enjoy the serendipity of discovery, that you’ll know something of the thrill we feel when we unlock the door of the morgue and walk into a treasure house made of filing cabinets, index cards, manila folders and more 8-by-10s than anyone can count.

A diagram of possibilities for deciphering the reverse-side notes can be found here (near the bottom of the page). Creators of the project plan to post several photographs on Tumblr every week.

American Images on the Web

NYPL Map Warper

NYPL has now scanned nearly all of its public domain New York City atlases… and built a web tool where users both inside and outside the Library can virtually stretch old maps onto a digital model of the world à la Google Maps or OpenStreetMap, thus creating a new copy that is not only aligned with spatial coordinates on the Earth, but normalized across the entire archive of old maps… All of this is done collaboratively, through the piecemeal efforts of staff, volunteers, and interns, a group of roughly 1,500 participants worldwide.

Read more about the project here. To participate, begin by creating an account here and then check out a YouTube tutorial here.

American Exhibitions Luna Modern - Contemporary Museums

Mike Kelley in the Renaissance Society Archive

Many of us have been reflecting on the work and spirit of Mike Kelley after his passing earlier this week. He presented a solo exhibition at the Renaissance Society in 1988. Photos from this exhibition, as well as images of other works, are available to the public in the Renaissance Society archive in LUNA.