Introducing the Photographers’ Identities Catalog
Today the New York Public Library is pleased to announce the launch of Photographers’ Identities Catalog (PIC), a collection of biographical data for over 115,000 photographers, studios, manufacturers, dealers, and others involved in the production of photographs. PIC is world-wide in scope and spans the the entire history of photography. So if you’re a historian, student, archivist, cataloger or genealogist, we hope you’ll make it a first stop for your research. And if you’re into data and maps, you’re in luck, too: all of the data and code are free to take and use as you wish.
Each entry has a name, nationality, dates, relevant locations and the sources from which we’ve gotten the information—so you can double check our work, or perhaps find more information that we don’t include. Also, you might find genders, photo processes and formats they used, even collections known to have their work. It’s a lot of information for you to query or filter, delimit by dates, or zoom in and explore on the map. And you can share or export your results.
How might PIC be useful for you? Well, here’s one simple way we make use of it in the Photography Collection: dating photographs. NYPL has a handful of cabinet card portraits of the actress Blanche Bates, but they are either undated or have a very wide range of dates given.
The photographer’s name and address are given: the Klein & Guttenstein studio at 164 Wisconsin Street, Milwaukee. Search by the studio name, and select them from the list. In the locations tab you’ll find them at that address for only one year before they moved down the street; so, our photos were taken in 1899. You could even get clever and see if you can find out the identities of the two partners in the studio (hint: try using the In Map Area option).
But there’s much more to explore with PIC: you can find female photographers with studios in particular countries, learn about the world’s earliest photographers, and find photographers in the most unlikely places…
Often PIC has a lot of information or can point you to sources that do, but there may be errors or missing information. If you have suggestions or corrections, let us know through the Feedback form. If you’re a museum, library, historical society or other public collection and would like to let us know what photographers you’ve got, talk to us. If you’re a scholar or historian with names and locations of photographers and studios—particularly in under-represented areas—we’d love to hear from you, too!