Library Collections

Collection Highlights

  • Total holdings of 150,000 items
  • Exhaustive collection of American art and photography exhibition catalogues and monographs
  • Large collection of specialized publications such as dissertations and catalogues raisonnĂ©s
  • Extensive holdings of American art, photography, and history journals and periodicals (800 titles total)
  • Holdings of the finest examples of nineteenth- and twentieth-century illustrated books and western Americana
  • Large collection of auction catalogues (about 10,000 items)
  • Extensive biographical files on American artists and photographers
  • Large collection of nineteenth-century newspapers on microfilm (over 5,000 reels)
  • Smithsonian Archives of American Art microfilm collection of over 15 million unpublished documents relating to American artists, galleries, and collectors (7,500 reels)
  • Specialized art, photography, and auction-price databases

Book and Periodical Collection

The library currently holds about 50,000 books offering extensive coverage of American art, photography, and history of the western United States, along with related topics. Included in this collection are some of the finest examples rare and illustrated books published since the early nineteenth century. Many of these titles are important early descriptive and pictorial records of the early landscape, natural history, and native people of the United States. Illustrations range from early techniques, such as engraving, woodcut, and hand-colored aquatint, through lithography and photomechanical printing. The periodical collection numbers about 800 titles, many of which are rare illustrated titles from the nineteenth century.

Microform Collection

The Carter library has 14,000 microfilm reels of nineteenth-century newspapers, periodicals, books, and primary material, plus more than 50,000 microfiches of auction and exhibition catalogues, ephemera, and other material. Specific microform sets include the Knoedler Library on Microfiche (art auction and exhibition catalogs), New York Public Library Artists File, New York Public Library Print File, America, 1935-1946 (photographs from the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information in the Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress), Early American Book and Pamphlets in the Field of Art & Architecture, History of Photography (periodicals only), Western Americana: Frontier History of the Trans-Mississippi West, 1550-1900, Texas as Province and Republic, 1795-1845, and American City Directories Through 1860.

As an associated research center of the Archives of American Art, the Carter is also home to a set of about 7,500 microfilm reels of unrestricted material from the archives representing about fifteen-million primary, unpublished documents related to American artists, galleries, and collectors.

One of the richest microform collections is an extensive set of nineteenth-century newspapers on microfilm representing strong holdings of titles published in Texas and the western United States. Amounting to over 5,000 reels, these newspaper titles offer an important record of the early history of the West.

View an index of microfilm newspaper holdings.

Ephemera/Vertical File Collection

This unique collection contains a variety of loose material and small publications on artists, museums, commercial galleries, organizations, and subjects. The bio files, by far the largest of these collections with coverage of about 9,000 artists, photographers, and collectors, offer a treasure trove of newspaper clippings, small exhibition catalogs, resumes, journal and periodical articles, reproductions, event invitations and announcements, portfolios, bibliographies, and similar material.

Browse and search the bio files.

The material contained in these files has not been digitized and is not directly accessible via this site.

Auction Catalog Collection

The library offers a large collection of about 10,000 auction catalogues published from the mid twentieth century forward primarily from the major American auction houses. Along with sale price information, these catalogs often offer important history, provenance, and reproductions of art work.