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Prints and Photographs Division



Graphic Journalism and Illustration
Photojournalism Collections
Documentary Surveys
Advertising and Propaganda
Artist Posters

Performing Arts Posters

Circus Posters

arrow graphicMotion Picture Posters

WPA Posters

World War I and World War II Posters

Yanker Posters
Graphic Ephemera
Pictures: Business and Art
Design Collections
Organizations' Records
Personal Papers



Motion Picture Posters

Reflecting the advent of a new entertainment technology, the division's collection of Motion Picture Posters (6,000 posters, 1896-present) encompasses thousands of posters and is particularly strong for films of the 1940s and 1950s. The breadth of the collection supports investigation of such topics as the evolving depiction of women in posters advertising Westerns, ranging from the poster for The Rustler's Reformation, a 1913 release from Selig Polyscope Company, to the poster for Two-Gun Lady, which was issued more than forty years later (POS—MOT. PIC.—1955 .T96, no. 1 [C size]).

see caption below

The Rustler's Reformation. Copyright 1913. Prints and Photographs Division.
bibliographic record

Searching the Collection

Many posters for which copy negatives or transparencies exist can be searched in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. The collection does not have its own listing in the online catalog, but items can be retrieved by searching the term motion picture posters in combination with titles of films, names of stars, and so forth. Digitized images generally accompany the records.

For posters not represented online, onsite researchers can consult:

  • card indexes that provide access to film titles, dates, stars, and directors; occasionally the cards describe the design of the poster
  • a binder containing microfilm strips made in the 1970s reproducing posters dating from the 1890s to the 1940s, a preview of a portion of the items in the collection

Recently acquired posters are not listed in the online catalog or the card indexes, nor are they reproduced in the binder. Advance arrangements are required to see uncataloged posters.

The Prints and Photographs Division's film posters and pictorial lobby cards complement similar materials held in the Moving Image Section—Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division.

Go to the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC)

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