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This guide identifies websites, databases, catalogs, and other reference sources for fining images of people, places and things. It also includes information on locating reproductions or illustrations of art works.

Finding Images

Photo by Timothy K. Hamilton. Flickr Creative Commons


Pictures in Books

Collections of photographs or drawings:


OSU Libraries Catalog   Books in Valley Library

Summit (Orbis Cascades) Catalog   Books in academic libraries in the northwest.  Request for delivery to Valley in 3-4 working days.


Add the words "pictorial works" or portraits to your keyword search, the words used in catalogs to desribe books with photographs or drawings.  For example:

  • Indexes to collections of photographs and other pictures:
  • Photography books index  Valley Library, 1st floor TR199 .M67 1985
  • Photography index : a guide to reproductions
    Valley Library, 1st floor  TR199 .P37
  • Picture researcher's handbook : an international guide to picture sources and how to use them.
    Valley Reference (2nd floor) N4000 .E8 1992 
  • Index to illustrations of animals and plants
    Valley Reference (2nd floor) QL46 .C541 1991

History/Archival Sources

Archives of American Art  Smithsonian's archive of primary sources (letters, diaries, photographs, oral histories, and more)

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History (Metropolitan Museum of Art History)

Find Images You Have Permission to Use

Flickr - Advanced Search Screen

Images that have been licensed by their creators with a Creative Commons license - telling you how you can legally and ethically use their photos.   Show me

Labeling and citing images

Even when the images you use are copyright free, you should acknowledge the creator and indicate the source. 

  • For examples of using MLA style to fully cite images you use in a research paper, click here: citing images 

Please be aware of legal restrictions on the use of images.  Boston University has a useful webpage on Image Copyright .


Printing Posters

Student Media Services  (Main Floor, Valley Library): production and printing services funded by student activity fees.

Pictures in Magazines

There are a couple of indexes that you can use to find pictures in heavily-illustrated magazines.  Search by subject (butterflies) and the index tells you which magazine, the date and the page where a picures was published.


Illustration Index: the BEST source for pictures of people, places, and things. Valley Reference (2nd floor) N 7525 .V3

  • Pictures in American Heritage, Gourmet, Life, National Geographic, National Wildlife, Natural History, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated, Travel & Leisure, Travel/Holiday. List of magazines at the front of each volume gives OSU call number.
  • Citation includes date, page, size of picture, whether or not it's in color. Use the "User Guide" at the front if you need help interpreting the citation.
  • This is a great resource. Here are some examples of the topics: crayons, boars (wild), locker rooms, blizzards, Zurich, Charlie Parker.

National Geographic Index  Valley, 6th floor G1 .N2
Index of photographs in National Geographic.


Stories and photos, past and present

If you know the date of your event, find a newspaper or magzine from that date and read about it. The magazines should have good photos as well.

  • New York Times, 1851-present. AN .U5 N7, 3rd floor on microfilm.
  • Times of London, 1914-present. AN .G7 T49, 3rd floor on microfilm.
  • Time, 1923-present. AP2 .T5, 6th floor
  • Newsweek, 1933-present. AP2 .N47, 6th floor.
  • Life, 1936-present. AP2 .L48, 6th floor 

To find articles written later, try:

Art Images

Curationist Free online resource that brings together arts and culture communities to find, share, collaborate, and reimagine cultural narratives.

Web Gallery of Art Virtual museum and searchable database of European painting and sculpture from 12th to mid-19th centuries.

Art Images for College Teaching.  Art and architectural works in the public domain

NY Public Library Digital Gallery  NYPL Digital Gallery provides free and open access to over 800,000 images digitized from the The New York Public Library's vast collections.

Museums with large collections of digitized images: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Metropolitan Museum of ArtJ. Paul Getty Museum, Louvre (Paris),  Atlas Gallery (London) , Tate (London).