William L. Clements Library

Graphics Division


In keeping with its mission to provide resources for a complete and full examination of American history, the Graphics Division of the Clements Library provides scholars with the opportunity to explore a vivid historical record through visual materials. Collections of rare prints, photographs, original art, illustrated sheet music, and printed ephemera have been selected to both support the library's materials in other formats, and to expand the scope of available information into directions not represented by the written word. Also included in the Graphics Division are coins, medals, weapons, small relics, personal effects, and other forms of "realia."

Organization of the Graphics Division

History of the Division

The Graphics Division was created in 2002 out of the print, photograph, ephemera and music collections. The primary goal of the division is to provide unified subject access to visual materials of all types, and to link to books, manuscripts, maps, and culinary items.

Using the Collection

The cataloging of the Graphics Division is a work in progress recently begun. A very small percentage of the Graphics Division's holdings are catalogued online, but most materials are available for research at the library. A small but growing number of prints, photographs, and illustrated sheet music covers can be located in U-M Library Catalog Search, the online catalog of the University of Michigan library system. General finding aids for prints and photographs are available in the reading room. Finding aids for ephemera, music, original art, and realia are currently being created. Please contact the reference staff of the library for assistance in locating materials.

Although the greatest concentration of images at the Clements is held by the Graphics Division, visual materials can be found in every divisions of the library. The Book Division also holds many of the library's earliest engravings and prints, photographically illustrated books, book plates, music books, fraktur art, art instruction books, and books on printing technology. Illustrated newspapers and magazines of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries are well represented. The Manuscript Division holds a pen and ink collection, illustrated journals and letters, photographs, Native American ledger drawings, illustrated ship's logs, and military signal books. The map division has thousands of decorative and illustrated maps, many with detailed topographic views, illustrations of people, places, activities, and events. To locate these materials, please consult the respective division guides.

The Clements Library Graphics Division has started a project to convert its finding aids to Encoded Archival Description (EAD). To use the new finding aids, visit the Graphics Division Finding Aids site.