William L. Clements Library



The print collection of the Clements Library contains prints of American content from the 15th to the 20th century. Subject areas of strength include: portraiture, American views, historic events, military history, American social and political satire, foreign satire related to American Revolution, fairs and expositions, culinary subjects, allegorical representations of America, and more. Almost every printing process from wood blocks and engravings to color lithographs and photomechanical prints is represented.

History of the Collection

The print collection at the Clements began slowly in the early history of the library with the acquisition of views and portraits related to the American Revolution. Of note was the acquisition of Paul Revere's engraving of the Boston Massacre "Bloody Massacre Perpetrated in King Street" in an original Revere shop frame. The collection expanded under director Howard Peckham, notably with prints commemorating the events of the War of 1812 and the Civil War. The acquisition of visual materials of all types accelerated greatly under the directorship of John C. Dann with numerous additions of 18th and 19th century satire, Civil War views, chromolithographs, portraits, and illustrated broadsides. Manuscript Curator Arlene Shy took special interest in British satire of the late 18th and early 19th centuries and oversaw the development of this collection as well as the organization of the rest of the print division. In 2002, the Graphics Division became the overarching entity for the print collection and the other visual collections of the Clements.

Using the Collection

The online cataloging of the print collection is a work in progress recently begun. A very small portion of the collection's holdings are in the online catalog, but most materials are available for research at the library. Genre terms such as etchings, engravings, lithographs in the subject search field will locate prints specifically. These terms can be used in conjunction with keywords in other search fields. Please contact the Curator of Graphics for assistance in locating these materials.