I’m still working on exactly how to categorise or organise these .. and naturally the list will be added to as time goes on. I’ve started with the most general, or generally-applicable, gradually becoming more specific. There is a growing booklist as a separate page, but books are also referred to here when necessary. Please take the trouble to inform me if any of the links become invalid so that I can either correct or delete them. If you have any recommendations for inclusions to this list don’t hesitate to let me know, suggesting which category you think it should be in.
Database and Stock Directories
Open Libraries and eBook collections
Research guides and resources lists
Standard measurements and sizes
For an overview see ‘Common sizes of things’ in the ‘Methods’ section. An essential reference work in this area is Interior Graphic Standards which is available in ‘Student edition’ (see booklist).
http://www.cawspi.org/Furniture%20Design.pdf Illinois Capital Area Woodworkers website is one of many woodworker sites, in the US or the UK, which include helpful lists of standard dimensions for furniture design. This .pdf includes typical adult figure measurements; standard dimensions for different types of tables and desks, chairs, beds, mattresses; also standards for shelves, cabinets and kitchen appliances.
http://www.getty.edu/research/tools/ The Getty Research Institute. Includes Photo Archive ‘an inventory of nearly two million study photographs of art and architecture’
http://www.lunacommons.org/ Image bank enabling easy access to a number of special digitized image collections
http://www.sscommons.org/openlibrary/welcome.html#1 Open-access library of free research images.
http://www.sacred-destinations.com/ ‘more than 1,200 sacred sites, holy places, pilgrimage destinations, and religious buildings in over 60 countries’
Above Kitsune (fox god) with key to the rice granaries. Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto. Credit: David Gardiner Garcia
http://www.muslimphotos.net/gallery/ Islamic heritage
http://www.werner-forman-archive.com/ archeological sites
http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/search.aspx The British Museum Collections online
http://huntington.wmc.ohio-state.edu/public/ The Huntington Archive of art and architecture throughout Asia (i.e. India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand ..)
http://itascalocations.com/ UK based. Plentiful photo-documentation, but minimal background information. Best to search by keyword rather than ‘A-Z’
http://www.locationworks.com/ as above, rich visual records of interiors but sparse background information
Above locationworks.com ref 33935. North London town hall, built in 1930s, currently empty
Not all abandoned asylums and sewer tunnels .. i.e. including this now famous labour of love named by others the ‘Hobbit House’, built in the Cotswolds by a supposedly eccentric artist from the 1980s onwards.
Another interesting site contributed to by ‘urban explorers’ documenting abandoned places across the world.
Locations by type
http://www.educationphotos.co.uk/ schools and classrooms
http://www.officemuseum.com/ offices through the ages
Above officemuseum.com, Acme Visible Record Keeping Equipment 1920s
Buildings, architecture inc. interior design
http://www.ribapix.com/ Royal Institute of British Architects database of images covering architecture of all periods including interior design.
http://www.greatbuildings.com/ detailed information and images on 1,000 examples of world architecture, often including architectural drawings.
Above greatbuildings.com, photo (interior atrium) and elevation Bradbury Building. Architect: George H Wyman. Los Angeles. 1889-1893 Credit: Matt Nardella
http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/ The Geffrye Museum of the Home presents 11 recreated period rooms.. The website features some good photos and 360 views of each (but move the 360 viewer slowly, otherwise it may make you nauseous!). The Geffrye also maintains a collection of objects and images relating to ‘the material culture’ of the English home from the 17th C to present day. Although smaller than the V&A collection, in many respects more useful for period research. A search for ‘chair’ will produce 346 entries arranged chronologically .. so for example if you’re looking for images relating to chairs around 1780 they will be grouped together. Each chair is photographed clearly in multiple views and some details and the ‘Detailed Description’ includes basic measurements. Elsewhere on the Geffrye site, which is pretty extensive, the ‘Documenting Homes’ collection concentrates on current domestic life and the previous century with lots of photographs of homes submitted by the public, starting from 1910. In the ‘Collections’ section are links to complete copies of a number of household catalogues dating from 1885 to the late 1930s.
Above Geffrye Museum of the Home, parlour in 1790. Photo: John Hammond Below living room in 1965. Photo: Chris Ridley
http://csdi.rca.ac.uk/didb/index.php Domestic Interiors Database
http://www.searsarchives.com/homes/byimage.htm Images of Sears homes 1908-40
http://worldimages.sjsu.edu/IT_86?sid=2218&x=258086&x=258087 World Images – Daily Life and Material Culture
http://www.heritage-images.com/ cultural, historical and fine art images. Images have reference value only, partly obscured by copyright mark unless purchased.
http://catena.bgc.bard.edu/index.htm CATENA Digital Archive of Historic Gardens and Landscapes
http://www.jewishmuseum.org.uk/Collections Jewish Museum London
Current affairs and historical press images
http://www.corbisimages.com/ news, creative, artistic
http://images.google.com/hosted/life LIFE Photo Archive, hosted by Google
http://www.shorpy.com/ Shorpy Historical Picture Archive
Science and medicine
http://wellcomeimages.org/ The name Wellcome is almost synonymous with science, particularly medicine. Although this is a selling site, images from medical or social history, contemporary healthcare and biomedical science are presented freely in a good size with an unobtrusive watermarking strip at the bottom.
http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/objects.aspx collection of objects from the Science Museum and Wellcome Trust illustrating the history of medicine
http://beckerimages.wustl.edu/ Becker Medical Library Image Gallery
http://www.sciencephoto.com/images Scientific and medical photos and illustrations
http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/index.shtml Plants, animals, fossils, people and landscapes
Above Homer Sykes, Southend on Sea 1974
http://www.english.emory.edu/classes/Shakespeare_Illustrated/Shakespeare.html representations of Shakespeare in 19th-century paintings
http://frda.stanford.edu/?locale=en French Revolution Digital Archives
http://www.arkiv.dk/ difficult to judge if you don’t speak Danish, but looks good if you’re looking for photos specific to Denmark
http://sa-kuva.fi/ Finnish Wartime Photograph Archive. The Archive contains 160,000 photographs taken 1939-45 during Finland’s Winter War, Continuation War and Lapland War. The site can be viewed in English, but specific photo searches have to use Finnish words.
Above prisoner of war camp, Parikkala, Finland 1939
United States and Canada
http://www.loc.gov/ The US Library of Congress
http://collections.si.edu/search/ Smithsonian Institution collections search
http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/explore/dgexplore.cfm?col_id=482 The New York Public Library Picture Collection. Over 30,000 digitized images ‘particularly rich in images of New York City, American history, and clothing and dress’. In March 2015 this will become part of http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/
http://imagesearchnew.library.illinois.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/chicago Picture Chicago, a digitized collection of old images about Chicago
http://digital.denverlibrary.org/cdm/photographs/ History of the American West
http://newdeal.feri.org/default.cfm America during the Great Depression
http://photogrammar.yale.edu/ also Great Depression era .. 170,000 photos c. 1935-45 organized by Yale University
http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/twww/ U.S. The National Archives ‘The Way We Worked’
20th century decades
Above theniftyfifties.tumblr, young women at a 1950s house party
Graphics and Advertising
https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadsidepictures/sets/939353/ Museum of American Packaging
http://www.cartoons.ac.uk/ British Cartoon Archive
http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/eaa/ Emergence of Advertising in America 1850-1920. Duke University Library’s collection of several thousand images.
There is a huge number of fine art websites offering the same kind of service and deciding who ‘does it better’ depends on your objective and your personal preferences. I have not included databases which either only show small thumbnails or images obscured by watermarking.
http://www.wga.hu/index1.html Web Gallery of Art. Huge database of images, good quality. European fine arts.
https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/project/art-project Google Art Project
https://images.nga.gov/en/page/show_home_page.html More than 45,000 open access digital images from the U.S. National Gallery of Art, many in high resolution.
http://www.medart.pitt.edu/ Images of medieval art and architecture
https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/labyrinth/ resources for Medieval Studies
http://www.bildindex.de/#|home Marburg Photo Archive, art and architecture and decorative arts. German language.
Decorative and folk art
http://emuseum.history.org/ Colonial Williamsburg Online Collections. Examples of fine, decorative, mechanical and folk art .. also furniture, textiles, costumes, firearms and toys. Mainly early American but some British.
http://www.davidrumsey.com/farber/index.html The Farber Gravestone Collection. Over 13,500 images of mainly pre-1800 gravestones, Northeastern United States (can also be accessed through Luna Commons, see nearer top)
Furniture and Props
See also top ‘Standard measurements and sizes’
http://collections.vam.ac.uk/ Online database for the Victoria and Albert Museum collections (see more about this in ‘Links’)
https://www.geffryeimages.com/en/page/show_home_page.html A similar service from the Geffrye Museum of the Home
I would always go to one, or both, of these extensive collections first .. because I know that the information they provide is reliable! Both are ‘searchable’ .. general keywords or more specific terms, and both allow use of medium res images for private research (even use on websites) as long as they are credited. Geffrye requires joining and logging in whereas the V&A does not.
http://archive.org/details/furnituredesigni01nyea ‘Furniture Designing and Draughting’ by Alvin Crocker Nye, describing common forms, dimensions and methods of construction. US 1900
www.ikea.com the IKEA online catalogue is a good source for quick comparisons of simple, functional styles. Clear photos (rarely more than one full view, but often with close-up details) and measurements confined to overall height, width and depth (found in the ‘Product Information’ section for each piece).
http://www.ralphlaurenhome.com/ ‘Iconic Design’, tasteful pieces from classic to modern, respectfully and clearly presented.
http://blog.lostartpress.com/2014/09/18/furniture-styles-from-gothic-to-the-20th-century/ downloadable pdf reproducing some of Charles H Hayward’s visual ‘timelines’ .. essential!
Above one of Charles Hayward’s ‘visual timelines’ reproduced by lostartpress.com
http://www.evenfallstudios.com/woodworks_library/woodworks_library.html an online collection of over 200 complete works on woodworking which are in the public domain, copied in pdf form, from 1803 to the present day .. including a large selection on ‘Furniture and Design’
http://www.iar.unicamp.br/lab/luz/ld/Figurino/Hist%F3ria/The%20History%20of%20Props.pdf ‘The History of Props: A Timeline of Props and Product Usage’ compiled by Richard Finkelstein, last updated 2006. Can be a fascinating read, a bit like a ‘stocking filler’ book .. though the info is important to avoid anachronisms!
http://www.originalprop.com/blog/ Dedicated to all things concerning props, wardrobe and artifacts from film and television
http://www.sellingantiques.co.uk/ large selling marketplace with good pictures, info and measurements. Furniture can also be viewed by period.
http://www.rubylane.com/ bills itself as ‘the world’s largest curated marketplace for vintage and antiques’
Above rubylane.com, late 19th c Italian hand-carved walnut loveseat in the Rococo manner. Showing the amount of visual info often provided.
Above collectorsweekly.com, Eric Eakin’s bedpan collection
http://www.antiques-atlas.com/suchgorgeousthings/ company based in Taunton, Somerset. Very good quality photos, usually including one with measurements added.
http://www.antiques-atlas.com large portal site ..
Historical moving image
http://www.bfi.org.uk/britain-on-film the British Film Institute’s recently opened collection of thousands of short films .. amateur, documentary and ‘public information’ .. available to watch online, mostly for free, using the BFIplayer
Above still from ‘Around the Village Green’ 1937, from BFI ‘Britain on Film’. A tea-cosy version of Essex village life!
Surfaces and Textures
http://www.cgtextures.com/ see longer description of this site in ‘Links’
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brickwork an informative and fairly authoritative page
www.wallpaperdirect.co.uk good source of repeatable patterns. Right click on pattern image and click ‘Save background as.’
Figure reference, anatomy (drawing or modelling)
This requires a separate list of its own which should be coming in due course..
http://www.costumes.org/index.php/Navigation The Costumer’s Manifesto Wiki .. a huge, rather daunting resource site originally started by Tara Maginnis in 1996. Due to its size and age it will inevitably suffer from weak joints, but it’s well worth trying!
https://arlisftc.wordpress.com/ Fashion, Textile and Costume Librarians group blog
http://thecostumeresourcessuppliersdirectory.com/ perhaps as an antidote after the above. Hasn’t been going for long, but useful links and articles ..
Above from thecostumeresourcessuppliersdirectory.com, not attributed
http://www.costumelibrary.com/ The Costume Gallery’s Research Library. Subscription site
http://www.milieux.com/category.php?catid=6 a huge list of books and websites invaluable for detailed costume research
http://imageleicestershire.org.uk/view-item?i=11963&WINID=1422949494047 The Symington Collection of corsetry and under-garments from the 1850’s onwards.
http://thomatkinson.com/ For his ‘Soldiers Inventories’ photographer Tom Atkinson laid out everything in a soldier’s kit, in 13 photographs spanning 1066 to 2014. See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-one/11011316/Military-kit-through-the-ages-from-the-Battle-of-Hastings-to-Helmand.html for an explanation of the items
http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hi/te_index.asp?s=all&t=all&d=the_costume_institute Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Costume Institute
http://www.lunacommons.org/luna/servlet/view/all;jsessionid=370546207B5842BEAC3A23AF30D6B6E9?sort=Title%2CDate_Original%2CLanguage%2CCoverage&pgs=50&res=0&cic=PRATTPRT%7E12%7E12 Pratt Institute Fashion Plate Collection. From the French ‘La Gazette du Bon Ton’ 1922
http://www.bergfashionlibrary.com/ an impressive looking site, full of promise .. but also a very serious commercial enterprise! It might be all you’ll ever need, but with no free trials for individuals and the smallest subscription c. £40 for 3 months, it will cost to find out .. unless your institution already subscribes!