Theatre Resources: Finding Visuals


Picture This: Finding Visuals

Finding Visuals in the Library

  •  Searching
     Your best bet is simply to run a Subject or Keyword search on what you want pictures of--canals or country houses, cars or carpets, casinos or cathedrals--and then browse these materials for pictures.
     Library records with any illustrations carry either the abbreviation "ill." or "illus." so you can target illustrated resources by going to the "Advanced search" option of the IC Library catalog and in the first slot entering--ill. illus.--with the "any of these" menu option. Then enter your search term(s) in the slot below.
     Also in "Advanced Search" try entering "Pictorial works" "as a phrase." Then in the slot below enter the thing you want illustrated. If this works, it will retrieve resources that are primarily composed of illustrations--assigned "pictorial works" as a subheading. But be aware that this subheading is often omitted even from heavily illustrated works.
  • Browsing
     There are sections of the library collection where it might be most efficient simply to browse for illustrations. Below are some likely call number ranges and the corresponding Subject categories:

GT 500-2370: Costume, Dress, Fashion
GV: Dancing [dance works tend to be lavishly illustrated]
NA: Architecture, including public buildings and domestic architecture
ND: Painting
NK: Decorative Arts
1700-2195: Interior Decoration
2200-2750: Furniture
4700-4890: Costume
TR: Photography
624-835 Applied Photography [books of photographs]
TT: Arts and Crafts, including furniture making, upholstering, dressmaking, hairdressing, and high fashion

     For styles from the past 150 years, try browsing some of the Library's bound periodicals (4th floor, Towers side):
Century Magazine (1881-1924): AP2 .C4
Harpers (1850-1916): AP2 .H3
Life (1937-2000): AP2 .L548
New Yorker (1948-2000): AP2 .N6763
Vanity Fair (1913-1936): AP2 .V32+
     These are all heavily illustrated with prints, photographs, and/or advertising.

Finding Visuals in Databases

Our premier image database, ARTstor can be a valuable resource for Theater Arts research--especially the "Advanced Search." When the "Basic Search" opens click on "Advanced Search" in the upper bar. In addition to the standard Keyword search, "Advanced" allows category searches of the image collection. Among the "Object Classification" options are Architecture, Decorative Arts and Interior Design, Fashion, Costume and Jewelry, and Garden and Landscape. These classifications can be combined with both Date Range and Geography. This allows you, for example, to run a search of all images of Decorative Arts and Interior Design between 1700 and 1800 in France--or between 1800 and 1900 in the United States. Or look at Costume and Jewelry from 1500 to 1600 in England.
Note: ARTstor requires Java and Flash Player, and you must have your browser set to allow cookies and your pop-up blocker disabled.

Streaming video of stage productions and movie adaptations. "Productions" represent all eras, from The Agamemnon and Oedipus Rex to Twelfth Night and The Alchemist to She Stoops to Conquer and Tartuffe to Krapp's Last Tape and To be Young, Gifted and Black. Also browse the "Documentaries" which include videos on the Renaissance Stage, Restoration Theater, and Kabuki or interviews with Arthur Miller, Lee Strasberg, Tennessee Williams, and John Gielgud.
Note: Theater in Video requires Flash Player v.8 or higher and a minimum of 400kbps of bandwidth. Also note: a limit of 5 simultaneous users.

Oxford Art Online  (part of Oxford Art Online)
Search "Images."

ProQuest Research Library  and others
Many of the IC Library databases will retrieve articles from the past 30-40 years either in pdf form with pictures intact or in HTML "with graphics." If you want to target photographs, ProQuest may be the most efficient. Open the "More Search Options" tab and set "Document feature" to limit retrievals to articles with "photographs" or "illustrations."

Finding Visuals on the Web

Google Images, Bing Images, Images, and others
Chances are your favorite Web search engine has an image search. Google, Bing, and do an excellent job. Just remember that no one has added any standardized vocabulary or subject categories here, so you are trying to match your search terms to people's image captions. In other words, be flexible.

Over 275,000 images from the New York Public Library. There are broad categories such as "Cities & Buildings" and "Culture & Society" which lead you to more specific collections. For example, under "Culture & Society" there is a "Dress and Fashion" collection, an "Empire and Regency" decorative arts collection, and a "Theatre Productions and Players" collection.

Wikimedia Commons is a database of over ten million media files.

Contact Us

picture of Jennifer Richards
Fine Arts Librarian
(607) 274-1199

Related Guides

See the Fine Arts Librarian Jennifer Strictland's subject guide for Photography, which can point you to many good Web resources, as well as her guide for Public Domain Material: Images, Audio, Scores & Books.