NYPL Picture Collection Online

If any of you are interested in collecting digitized historical pictures, you should definitely look into NYPL’s PCO website!


When I was in fashion design school, I remember the first field trip was to this NYPL’s Picture Collection (offline) department on 40th St. The intention was trying to keep the students away from using their computers and Google search excessively for their research and inspiration. Ironically, it seems like Picture Collection Online has already existed since 2002, which means the students could have retrieved those images online (I had no idea). I’d still recommend you visit the offline section in the building on 40th St. at least once though. Anyhow, their collection is amazing. They say it covers over 12,000 subjects (the only downside is that the images are not high-resolution). There’s also “MY GALLERY” function you can organize the images you like. It’ll be a great source for some visual projects. For example, collecting fashion related images from this collection (along with other sources) and organizing the data as a fashion history project will be tremendously helpful to both fashion design and fashion studies students because such fashion history books are very rare – there are some fashion history books with this kind of picture collections but they don’t cover a variety of periods and they tend to be quite inaccessible. I feel like organizing the fashion related data from this website into a certain (online) textbook could be a great project in terms of (digital) design pedagogy. Hope you enjoy it!

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4 thoughts on “NYPL Picture Collection Online

  1. madi

    Min, I’m sure you’ll be happy to know that I’m using a part of the collection for my dataset project. It is a wonderful resource for the visually inclined!

  2. Billy Parrott

    The Picture Collection at Mid-Manhattan Library does class visits throughout the year. Contact me if you are interested.

    Billy Parrott
    Managing Librarian, The Picture Collection

  3. Elissa Myers

    This is so cool! As a Victorianist, I love looking at pictures of old fashions. There are lots in periodicals of the time, but to see those, you have to flip through a lot of pages, and it is a lot harder to find pictures in digitized periodicals. This seems great if a person really just wants to look at the pictures!

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