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Starting your search for articles? Use the Databases tab.
Find images, texts, videos, and more from the Archives & Special Collections and Art & Architecture Collection.
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Finding and Using Images
Working with images resources, whether digital or in print, has much in common with text-based research, but with some key differences. This guide serves as an introduction to finding and using images, and to citation and copyright concerns. For more information on image research and use in any subject area, contact a subject librarian. You might also check out the Primary Sources research guide for more sources that contain images.
If you find a catalog record or citation for an image that Amherst does not have access to, contact a subject librarian to see how you might get a copy of the image.
Five College catalog:
Library records for books with illustrations contain either the abbreviation "ill." or "illus." so you can target illustrated works in an Advanced Search of the Library catalog by entering “ill.”, “illus.”, “all ills.”, “pictorial works”, “plates”, or “color plates” in one keyword field and your topical search term(s) in the field(s) below. For example, looking for images of birds? Do an Advanced Search for birds AND ill, or birds AND “color plates”.
The Library Catalog uses Library of Congress subject headings that can also help you identify illustrated books on a desired subject.
One subject heading construction is in the form of "X in art" -- for example,
• “birds in art”
• “food in art”
• “saints in art”
• “gardens in art”
Try seeing if your topic might exist in this subject form. Put your search in quotation marks to search as a phrase.
Another subject heading construction incorporates an ending of "pictorial works." For example,
• Birds--pictorial works
Enter [your term] AND "pictorial works” in the Advanced Search as keywords, or try the same search in Subject keyword fields.
Amherst College subscribes to several image databases. These have many features in addition to image searching, including subject guides, articles, timelines, and more. There are also images to be found in full-text databases.
- ACDC (Amherst College Digital Collections) - images, texts, videos, and more from the Amherst College Archives & Special Collections and Art & Architecture Collection.
- ARTstor - Curated collections of digital images, associated data, and presentation tools for educational use. Over 1 million images of architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, decorative arts, and design, as well as performance and other forms of visual culture.
- Bridgeman Education - A visual resource offering digital images of art, history, and culture from museums, galleries, private collections, and contemporary artists.
- Oxford Art Online - Searchable access to Grove Art Online, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, and more.
"Hidden" images in full-text databases:
Many indexes and multidisciplinary databases will allow you to limit your search search to articles containing images, photographs, or illustrations. You can also find images in these resources by using keywords such as "illustration" in your search. A few databases that have specific search options for images include:
- Black Studies Center - image results display in the "multimedia" category and have a camera icon.
- Early English Books Online (EEBO) - advanced search includes a "search by illustration type" option
- Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) - search results include links to lists of illustrations.
- Historical Newspapers (ProQuest) - advanced search includes the option to limit by type of document, including editorial cartoons
- JSTOR - advanced search allows searches within captions (choose from the dropdown menu)
There are many online, free image resources. Some of the most robust include:
- Ancient World Image Bank at NYU - free digital imagery for the study of the ancient world
- Artsy Education - artworks from galleries, museums, and private collections
- Digital Public Library of America - catalog of public domain and openly licensed images and other digitized materials from archives, libraries, museums, and other U.S. cultural heritage institutions
- Digital Scriptorium - image database of medieval and renaissance manuscripts
- Flickr Commons - public photography archives from major institutions
- Getty Open Content Images database - digitized materials from the Research Institute's collection
- Art Project of Google Cultural Institute - images of works from museums around the world
- Library of Congress American Memory - open-access photograph collection
- Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection - digitized documentary photographs, architecture, design, and engineering materials, and prints
- Metropolitan Museum of Art - digitized high-resolution images from the museum's archives
- New York Public Library's Digital Gallery - images from the NYPL's collections, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, and photographs
- Rijksmuseum API Collectie - downloadable, high-resolution images of works in the museum's collection
- Smithsonian Institution Collections Online -works from the collections within the broad categories of Art & Design, History & Culture, and Science & Technology
- Wikimedia Commons - database of freely usable images and other media
Images and illustrations need to have proper citations. Images, artwork, or photographs used in publications or papers should also be accompanied by a caption. These captions can be compiled into a list of illustrations or an appendix. It is appropriate to include information about both the image and the source of the image in captions or notes and lists of illustrations or bibliographies. Images from print sources and electronic resources have different citation forms. Always consult a style manual for formatting guidelines. Check with your professor or advisor to determine which style your department requires.
Appendix or List of Images:
Images and figures are often compiled into an Appendix, Bibliography, or List of Figures. Check with your advisor for specific requirements.
You will usually need the following information about the image and its source to cite a work of art properly:
- Information about image
- Creator/artist name, if known
- Title of the work, if known. If not, describe the image.
- Repository (museum or archive) or owner of work
- Location of repository or work
- Dimensions of the work
- Materials or medium (such as oil on canvas, marble, found objects, etc.)
- Information about source
- Institution granting permission for use (often owner or published source)
- Author, title, publisher information, date, and page, figure or plate number of the reproduction if the image is from a book
- Electronic resource or web site name, address (URL), and the date you retrieved the image
For more on general citations, see the Citation research guide.
Copyright, Permissions, and restrictions on image use
Digital images in ACDC, ARTstor, Bridgeman Education, and Oxford Art Online are provided for members of the Amherst academic community for use in teaching, study, and research. Amherst College students, faculty, and staff may use these images for in-class presentations, as well as papers, assignments, and some senior theses without obtaining permission. Some images provided by online sources, such as the Getty Open Content Images database are free to use as well. Images should always be cited (see above). Unless an image is in the public domain, inclusion in a published or commercial work or a non-Amherst-password-protected website may require permission from the copyright holder.
Use of images is sometimes covered by the concept of "Fair Use." See the College Art Association's page on Intellectual Property and The Arts for more information.
Use of Images in Senior Theses
Senior honors theses are considered publications, and cannot contain copyrighted material without permission. Many of Amherst's digital images available through the library may be printed in your thesis without requiring any special permission from the publisher:
Look for the "Rights Information" at the bottom each record in the Art & Architecture Collection, or the "Access and Use" information in the Archives & Special Collections and Emily Dickinson Collection.
There are many images in ACDC that you may use in your thesis without requesting permission:
- If the rights information or access and use statement says "public domain" or "out of copyright," the image may be freely used in senior theses. It is not necessary to request permission to use these images, but be sure to properly cite the image(s).
- All images that list “ “ as the rights holder may be freely used in senior theses.
For other images in ACDC, you may need to request permission from the publisher or copyright holder to reproduce/print the image, unless you determine that your use of the image meets "Fair Use" exception to U.S. copyright law.
All images in ARTstor may be freely used in senior theses. It is not necessary to request permission to use these images, but be sure to properly cite the image(s).
Images in Bridgman Education may be freely used in senior theses. It is not necessary to request permission to use these images, but be sure to properly cite the image(s).
Oxford Art Online
You must request permission from the publisher or copyright holder to reproduce/print images from Oxford Art Online in your thesis.
If you need additional help determining whether or not an image is copyrighted or in the public domain, or seeking permission to use a copyrighted image, contact a subject librarian, or make a research appointment. More more on proper use and permissions, see the Academic Honesty and Plagarism page.