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The South: Culture and History: Images

This library guide is designed for researchers studying any topics related to the South's culture and history.

Interpreting Images

For great ideas on interpreting images that you find, please see this History Matters page, and this page from Library of Congress

Here are a few questions that can help:

>Who created the image?

>Why was the image made?

>How was it created?  Paint, sculpture, drawing, computer design?

>Why are certain characters, settings, lines, shapes, perspectives, and colors used?  What do these elements communicate to the viewer?

>Does the image portray Southern culture accurately?  Is it more myth?  Perhaps some of both?

>What was happening in history when the image was made?

>What do the pictures communicate about issues of gender, race, and class?

You will probably have to consult criticism--articles and books about the image--to help you answer all of these questions.

Image Collections

You can use images as sources along with textual documents.  In addition to searching in Google Images and newspapers from a historical period, here are some excellent online collections that you can help you find images:

American Memory Project--Gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. Particularly noted for its images and multimedia.

ARTstor--over a million historical images, including propaganda posters, artwork, newspaper illustrations, cartoons, photographs, maps, pictures of artifacts and historical costumes. Picutres of the civil rights movement, the Civil War, famous Southerners, and more.

Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas--over a thousand images from the slave era.

CAMIO: Catalog of Art Museum Images Online--premier resource of high-quality art images from around the world contributed and described by leading museums, all rights-cleared for educational use. Every work in CAMIO is represented by at least one high-resolution image and a description. Many have additional views of the work, sound, video and curatorial notes.

Getty Images--over 24 million photos and other images, covers a lot of pop culture.

Images of the American Civil War: Photographs, Posters and Ephemera--"presents the dramatic imagery of nineteenth-century Americana as experienced from the social, political, and military perspectives…At completion, Images of the American Civil War will contain 75,000 images."

Life Photo Archive--millions of photos from a popular magazine that documented many events of the American South and the rest of the world during the twentieth century. 

Natural Museum of American History--examine artifacts without having to travel to the museum!

New York Public Library Digital Gallery--"vast collections, including historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs and more"

Smithsonian Research Images--over 400,000 images or multimedia clips from the Smithsonian.


You can also find images by browsing through the art books on the third floor of Gorgas Library.


Here are a few resources you can use to find criticism, reviews, and other information about images. 

Academic Search Premier

Art & Architecture Complete   

Communication & Mass Media Complete   

Communication Studies: A SAGE Full-Text Collection



For books search in Scout, the UA Libraries' Catalog.

Citing Images in MLA

You can find help on citing images in MLA on this site.