Frank Cancian. Shooting back. 1971. Photograph. © 2001 Frank Cancian. University of California Irvine Libraries.

“Beauty, you’re under arrest. I have a camera, and I’m not afraid to use it.” Thus wrote the pioneering Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron as the medium was taking off in the late 19th century. The open, public, and licensed collections on Artstor and JSTOR provide a rich survey of the field from the time of its invention in France and England under Henry Fox-Talbot, Louis Daguerre, and others until the present, illustrating developments in fine art, photojournalism, documentary photography, and commercial/editorial work with more than 500,000 images. The collections are replete with examples from leading American photographers: Carleton Watkins, Ansel Adams, Alfred Steiglitz, Edward Steichen, and many more. Documentarian/photojournalists range from Henri Cartier-Bresson to Susan Meiselas. The contribution of women to the field is well supported by the work of Julia-Margaret Cameron, Anna Atkins, Dorothea Lange, Margaret Bourke-White, Diane Arbus, Lola Álvarez Bravo, Cindy Sherman, Ami Vitale, Loretta Lux, and others.

Georges Demeny. Fencer 1906. Photograph. Image and data from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Creative Commons (CC0).

Eric Lee-Johnson. Vivienne Lee-Johnson… 1940. Photograph. Image and data from Museum of New Zealand – Te Papa Tongarewa. No known copyright.

Open Artstor collections

Freely accessible Creative Commons-licensed museum, library, and archive collections.

  • Open Artstor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (~470,000 images including ~9,500 photographs) – The Met’s Department of Photographs houses a collection of more than 75,000 works spanning the history of photography from its invention in the 1830s to the present. Among the selections in Artstor are a rare album of photographs by William Henry Fox Talbot made just months after he presented his invention to the public; a large collection of portrait daguerreotypes by the Boston firm of Southworth and Hawes; landscape photographs of the American West by Timothy O’Sullivan and Carleton Watkins; and examples of early French photography by Edouard Baldus, Charles Nègre, Gustave Le Gray, Henri Le Secq, Nadar, and others.
  • Open Artstor: Museum of New Zealand – Te Papa Tongarewa (~46,000 images including ~3,500 photographs) – The foundation of Te Papa’s photography collection lies with the nineteenth-century Colonial Museum. Ethnology was a particular interest of the Museum, namely of the Maori and Pacific peoples. The museum also collected the work of the Burton Brothers studio – the widest photographic coverage of New Zealand in the nineteenth century.Other additions to the collection have included twentieth-century work available in the Artstor selection: the family photographs of Levin farmer and scholar, Leslie Adkin; the commercial photographs of the Gordon H. Burt studio; portraits by Spencer Digby; and the life’s work of Brian Brake. The photography from the former National Art Gallery constitutes another side of Te Papa’s collection with a focus on New Zealand photographers. Te Papa has significant holdings from Pictorialists such as George Chance, Les Casbolt and Harry Moult, as well as the work of New Zealand’s contemporary photographers from the 1960s on.

Artstor licensed collections

A wide range of subscription-based, multidisciplinary content from some of the world’s top museums, artists, libraries, scholars, and photo archives, including rare collections not accessible anywhere else.

  • Center for Creative Photography (~36,000 images) – The Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona is a leading museum and hub for the history of photography. Beginning with the archives of five living master photographers—Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, and Frederick Sommer—the collection has grown to include approximately 270 archival collections, much of it available in Artstor. Among those featured are some of the most recognizable names in twentieth-century North American photography: Lola Alvarez Bravo, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Tina Modotti, W. Eugene Smith, Edward Weston, Garry Winogrand, and others.
  • Frank Cancian Documentary Photograph Archive (~ 175 images) This collection presents photographer and anthropologist Frank Cancian’s (1934-2020) documentation of communities in California, Mexico, and Italy, including house cleaners in Orange County (2001-2002); the Maya of Zinacantán, Chiapas (1960-1971); and the people of Lacedonia, a hill town in Avellino (1957). Cancian’s published research focused on comparative social inequality, economic anthropology, and Mexican studies.
  • George Eastman Museum (~ 20,200 images) – Selections from the world’s oldest museum of photography document the development of the medium, beginning with early daguerreotypes by the firm of Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes, pioneering portraitists in the United States. Other notable portraitists include Julia Margaret Cameron. There are examples of nineteenth-century travel and landscape photography from the Middle East (Abdullah Frères, Fèlix Bonfils) and the American West (William Henry Jackson, Carleton Watkins). Eugène Atget is also well represented. Figures from the Modernist Photo-Secession movement are included, notably Edward Steichen, Alvin Langdon Coburn, and Gertrude Kasebier. Other iconic twentieth-century photographers include Berenice Abbott, Margaret Bourke-White, Walker Evans, Victor Keppler, Nickolas Muray, Arnold Newman, Arthur Rothstein, Aaron Siskind, and many more.
  • J. Paul Getty Museum (~5,000 images, including ~500 photographs)The selection from the Getty’s photographic holdings in Artstor is rich in works dating from the mid-nineteenth century and the invention of the medium, including innovators like William Henry Fox Talbot, Roger Fenton, Gustave Le Gray, Jean-Gabriel Eynard, Nadar, and Julia Margaret Cameron. It features the Yosemite landscapes of Carleton Watkins and the Paris cityscapes of Eugène Atget, as well as the Civil War scenes of Alexander Gardner, and the portraits of Doris Ulmann, among others.
  • Library of Congress Collection (~20,650 images) – The collection in Artstor is devoted to the work of the German-born American self-taught photographer Arnold Genthe (1869-1942) (it features just one section of the LOC’s holdings in photography). In San Francisco, Genthe specialized in soft-focus portraits of socialites and artists. He also documented the city’s Chinatown and the devastating earthquake and fire of 1906. Transplanted to New York in 1911, Genthe continued to shoot portraits, including those of Arturo Toscanini, John D. Rockefeller, and presidents Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. He also made studies of dancers, such as Anna Pavlova and Isadora Duncan. He was an early experimenter in the Autochrome color photography process.
  • Magnum Photos (~131,000 images) – This collection is comprised of a wide range of work from the vast archive of the Magnum photographers’ cooperative. For seven decades, documentary photographers have been recording events, people, and phenomena from the Spanish Civil War to Vietnam to the present day, producing some of the most challenging images of the twentieth century and contemporary life. Magnum’s roster includes dozens of names like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Eve Arnold, Rene Burri, Elliott Erwitt, Josef Koudelka, Hiroji Kubota, Susan Meiselas, Martin Parr, and Alex Webb. The collection also documents contemporary issues with photographs from Fukushima to New York City.
  • Milton Rogovin: Social Documentary Photographs (~260 images) – A documentary photographer and political activist, Milton Rogovin (1909-2011) is best known for his portraits of the poor and working class, often considered “the forgotten ones.” The selection in Artstor displays the breadth of Rogovin’s interests from subjects like Family of Miners and Working People, and immigrant and Native American communities, in Chile, Mexico, Appalachia, and Buffalo. Trained as an optometrist, Rogovin turned to photography when his political activism drew the attention of the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1957 and negatively impacted his practice in Buffalo.
  • Minor White Archive (~5,860 images) – This collection represents a substantial selection from the Minor White Archive, which first went to the Princeton University Art Museum as a gift of the artist in 1976. White (1908-1976) was a leading photographic artist and teacher during the decades following World War II, and a key figure in shaping a distinctly modern American style in thousands of works that fused a precise and meticulous technique with allegory and poetry. White passionately pursued his art, taught it, and wrote about it. He was also the founding editor of Aperture magazine.
  • Museum of the City of New York (71,000 images including 67,000 photographs) – This collection, based on the extensive holdings of MCNY, includes some of the earliest views of the city by Victor Prevost, and a chronicle of New York life from 1892-1942 from Byron Company. The metropolis is further documented in the work of Jacob Riis, Jessie Tarbox Beal, Berenice Abbot, and many others. The selection also includes the work of commercial photographic firms such as Irving Underhill, the Wurts Brothers, Gottscho-Schleisner.
  • Panos Pictures (~35,017 images) – Artstor’s selection from the Panos agency is global and eclectic. From urban development in Turkey and deforestation in the Amazon to photos of extinct and endangered species at the Field Museum and Charlie Chaplin impersonators in India, the collection covers thousands of compelling stories. Images documenting urban and rural communities, diverse landscapes and the built environment, peace and conflict, tell the story of the ties between globalized and localized life. Zackary Canepari, Fernando Moleres, Mads Nissen, Chris Keulen, Abbie Trayler-Smith, and Ami Vitale are among the dozens of photographers included.
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (~1,780 images, including ~800 photographs) – Artstor’s rich selection from SFMOMA derives from the strength of their photography department, the largest collecting area in the museum. Photography has been an integral part of SFMOMA since its founding in 1935, due to the presence of Bay Area artists such as Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Edward Weston, and Imogen Cunningham, whose works founded the collection. The growth of the collection has kept pace with the medium with the representation of leading photographers through time and across the globe, including Anna Atkins, Alfred Stieglitz, Man Ray, Sibyl Anikeef, Alexander Rodchenko, Sonya Noskowiak, Joanne Leonard, Gabriele Iturbide, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Alec Soth, and others.

Open Community Collections

Freely accessible primary source materials contributed by partner institutions at universities, libraries, museums, and organizations around the world.

  • Binghamton University Art Museum (~4,090 images, including 500 photographs) – The Binghamton University Art Museum includes one of the most diverse collections of photography within our Community Collection offerings. The collection includes hundreds of photographs by Joel Meyerowitz (1938-), one of the first documentary and street photographers to use color film. Depicting the landscapes and residents of Provincetown, New York, and Cape Cod, Meyerowitz has been described as “one of the most impressive and versatile practitioners of color photography” with the “uncanny ability to see subtle changes in atmosphere and season.”1 The university collection also includes works by Cindy Sherman, Jacob Riis, Margaret Bourke-White, and Larry Fink.
  • Grand Valley State University – Douglas R. Gilbert Photographs (~160 images) – A collection of photographs scanned from negatives and transparencies from the Douglas R. Gilbert papers. Born in Michigan, Gilbert joined the staff of Look Magazine in 1963 as the second youngest photojournalist in the publication’s history. This collection includes Gilbert’s extensive documentation of Bob Dylan as well as other prominent mid-century cultural figures including Allen Ginsberg, Iggy Pop, Janice Ian, and Buffy Sainte-Marie. Gilbert’s works are held in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, and the Grand Valley State University Art Galleries, as well as in numerous private and institutional collections.
  • Lehigh University Art Galleries Permanent Collection (~3,000 images including ~2,500 photographs) – This museum collection includes thousands of photographs that document cultural shifts and artistic innovation over the twentieth century. Examples include black-and-white portraits and documentary photography by Luc Chessex, George Harvan, and Elaine Ling, and images of Jimmy Guiffre and Sheila Jordan evoking the Jazz era by Herb Snitzer. The University Art Gallery collection also holds hundreds of Andy Warhol’s famous polaroid portraits. Described by Warhol as “dissolv[ing] the wrinkles and imperfections” of the subject and frequently involving hundreds of takes, these polaroids depict notable individuals such as Jack Nicklaus, Dorothy Hamill, and Sylvester Stallone.2
  • Virginia Tech – Taubman Museum of Art (~1,700 images including ~300 photographs) – The Taubman Museum collection includes extensive photography holdings from the late nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries illustrating early techniques and composition styles. Notable among these are the photographs of Susan Macdowell Eakins (1851-1938). The student and wife of realist painter Thomas Eakins, Macdowell Eakins often used her photographs as guides for her own oil paintings of her family, as well as still lifes and self-portraits.The Taubman collection also includes photographs by Jim Mcguire, Alen Macweeney, and Glen Mcclure.