New York Public Library Digital Galleries

Miss Fanny Kemble as Portia in the Merchant of Venice
Miss Fanny Kemble as Portia in the Merchant of Venice

As a props person, you’re always looking online for images, whether as research for pieces, inspiration for set dressing, or as elements for a paper prop.

The New York Public Library has a great digitized collection of images in their Digital Gallery.  Some proptacular highlights include cigarette cards from pre-1900s to the mid-20th century; dust jackets from American and European books, 1926-1947; decoration in the Age of Napoleon; and  a collection of restaurant menus from 1851 to 1930.

There is also a ton of theatre-related photographs and ephemera, such as the Vandamm Studio Photographs of theatre productions and players from 1900 to 1957.

These digital galleries have so much visual reference and research; I highly recommend taking the time to look through it all and bookmarking or taking note of what you might find useful in the future.

3 thoughts on “New York Public Library Digital Galleries”

  1. Are these photo collections in the public domain? I would like to be able to use them in future film projects and am curious to know what kind of licensing each site offers.

  2. Some of them look like they might be in the public domain, but I am not a lawyer and cannot say in any capacity what the status of any of them are. However, the New York Public Library does have a very clear page on obtaining images for editorial and creative use, which includes a fee schedule for all sorts of uses.

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