Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

Library Guide for ARTH 557:

 James McNeill Whistler

Fall 2004, Professor Marc Simpson

Williams/Clark Graduate Program in Art History



Karen Bucky, Collections Access/Reference Librarian


General note:  in this online version of the Library Guide, hyperlinks have been made to databases where possible.  If at any point a connection to a database does not work, connect to the Electronic Resources page and try from there.  For most databases, authorized connection is by IP range and therefore is only possible from within the Clark Art Institute or Williams College libraries.



Finding Books:

WorldCat, Eureka, Catalogs for Other Art Libraries


Search our collection:

Use the CAI online catalog to access our own quite respectable collection on Whistler, whose call number is ND237 S3.  In addition to other works, you can find bibliographies, and the catalogues raisonnés of Whistler's paintings, etched works, lithographs, and drawings, pastels and watercolors.  Try doing Name searches for other artists associated with Whistler.  Search Francis -- the Williams College catalog -- for books on Whistler's non-artist friends (or enemies!) such as Swinburne and Ruskin, as well as to find background material on the political, economic, and historical context of Whistler's life and work.


In addition to material at Williams and the CAI Library, you also have access through Francis to the BLC (Boston Library Consortium) Virtual Catalog, a union catalog of the holdings of other New England libraries such as Brown, the Boston Public Library, Boston University, U. of New Hampshire, and U. Mass. Materials found through BLC can be requested electronically on loan through Williams.



Search libraries worldwide:

Eureka and WorldCat are vast databases that represent the holdings of thousands of libraries worldwide.  Both are accessible through the CAI Library's Electronic Resources page.  Materials not available in the CAI Library can be requested through Interlibrary Loan.


WorldCat's member libraries run the gamut of types of libraries: public, academic, research, special, and some larger school libraries.  The database is larger and includes "popular" materials sometimes not available on Eureka. 


Eureka's member libraries are the major research libraries; the database is smaller but often includes scholarly material not available on WorldCat.



Search other art and research libraries:

From our Electronic Resources page, click on Subject Guide: Library Catalogs.  Choose from among the listing of research libraries and art libraries to search larger research collections.  Materials not in our collection can be requested through Interlibrary Loan.



Biographical Sources


The following sources are first-stop places to check if you need brief, basic information on someone associated with Whistler; some are specifically for finding artists and others are more general.


Electronic sources


Biography and Genealogy Master Index

Indexes reference works containing multiple biographies: Who's Who, biographical dictionaries, subject encyclopedias, volumes of literary criticism (e.g. Contemporary Authors).

Electronic Resources page


Biography Index

An index to biographical articles and essays published in periodicals and in collective or individual biographies. Also indexes incidental biographical material in otherwise non-biographical books. Subjects indexed range from antiquity to the present and represent all fields and nationalities.

Electronic Resources page


Print sources


Allgemeines Kunstlerlexikon: Biobibliographischer Index A – Z.  Munchen: K. G. Saur, 1999.

Lists the names of approximately 500,000 artists from more than 150 countries and provides for each (where known) birth and/or death or "flourished" dates, a definition of artistic profession(s), country, and at least one bibliographical reference to a source work.

CAI Reference N40 A44b


Dictionary of American Biography.  Allan Johnson, ed.  New York: Scribner's, c1964.

Scholarly American biography designed to follow the model of the Dictionary of National Biography (below), with signed articles and bibliographies.  Planned to include "noteworthy persons of all periods who lived in the territory now known as the United States, excluding British officers serving in America after the Colonies declared their independence."  Does not include living persons.  Supplements bring the record down to 1980.  Each supplement includes a cumulative index covering all entries from the beginning.

CAI Reference N55 U5 D47


Dictionary of National Biography.   London; New York: Oxford University Press, 1920 - .

The most important reference work for English biography.  Important names are treated at length, minor names more briefly; all articles are reliable and scholarly. Includes "all noteworthy inhabitants of the British Isles and the Colonies, exclusive of living persons; also noteworthy Americans of the colonial period."  Supplements bring the record down to 1990.  Each supplement includes a cumulative index covering all entries from the beginning.

CAI Reference N55 G7 D5


Havlice, Patricia Pate.  Index to Artistic Biography.  Metuchen, NJ:  Scarecrow Press, 1973.

Index to biographical material on artists appearing in 64 works, mostly dictionaries and works of collective biography.  Entries give artist's name, dates, nationality, media (e.g. painting, sculpture), and code reference to work in which biographical information appears.  See also the first and second supplements to the original work, published in 1981 and 2002, respectively.

CAI Reference N40 H38



Indexes to Scholarly Articles & Dissertations


American History and Life

Historical Abstracts

These two databases index scholarly articles, dissertations, and book reviews in the field of history and culture.  AHL covers North America (United States and Canada), from prehistory to the present;  HA covers world history excluding the United States and Canada, from 1450 to the present.  They are produced by the same company, and once logged into one database, you can switch to the other by clicking a button on the sidebar.  Hotlinks will take you to articles in e-journals owned by Williams.  Both databases include a wealth of material on Whistler.

Electronic Resources page


Art Abstracts

A good starting point for locating articles in fine arts journals, book reviews, and articles in museum bulletins for any period or genre of art, from classical antiquity to the present. Subjects such as archaeology, architectural history, museum studies, and the decorative arts are also included.  Indexing coverage from 1984 – present; abstracts from 1994. Continues Art Index Retrospective (below).

Electronic Resources page

Related print title:  Art Index.  New York:  H.W. Wilson, 1929 - . (Library has 1929 – 1984.)

Call Number:  Reference Z3957 A7


Art Index Retrospective

Indexes articles in fine arts journals and museum bulletins published between 1929 and 1984. Continued by Art Abstracts (above).  When you connect to the database, you have to specify that you want AIR by clicking a box at the top of the screen.

Electronic Resources page


Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA)

Provides citations and abstracts for materials on European and American art from late antiquity to the present. Materials indexed include art-related books, conference proceedings and dissertations, exhibition and dealer's catalogs, and articles from more than 2,500 periodicals. BHA merges three databases: Bibliography of the History of Art (1990 – present), International Repertory of the Literature of Art (1975-1989), and Repertoire d'Art et d'Archeolgie (1973-1989).  To search further back in time, see related print titles, below.

Electronic Resources page

Related print title:  Répertoire d'art et d'archéologie.  Paris: Bibliothèque d'art et d'archéologie, 1910-1989.

Call Number:  Reference ZN5300 R46


Dissertation Abstracts

Indexes U.S., Canadian, British, and some European theses and dissertations from academic institutions in North America and Europe from 1861 to the present.  Abstracts for dissertations were added to the database in 1980; abstracts for theses in 1988.  Dissertations can be an especially rich source for materials on a subject, and they include exhaustive bibliographies.  Most dissertations can be obtained on Interlibrary Loan in microformat.

Electronic Resources page


Humanities Index

Indexes articles on topics in the humanities, including archaeology, classical studies, folklore, history, journalism, literature, music, performing arts, philosophy and religion.  Coverage is from 1980 to the present.  For earlier coverage, consult the print indexes at Sawyer: Humanities Index (1974 - ), Social Sciences and Humanities Index (1966 - 1974), and International Index (1907 - 1965) (see next section for locations and annotations).

Electronic Resources page


Lexis/Nexis Academic Universe

Indexes national, regional, and international newspapers and magazines, as well as business, legal, and medical news, and other publications.  Coverage varies with the publication, but is generally quite recent.  Use this database to find out how Whistler's life and art figure in today's news.

Electronic Resources page



Indexes to 19th-/Early-20th-Century Periodical Articles


Electronic Indexes


Index to 19th-century American Art Periodicals

Index to "nearly all" art journals published in the United States between 1840 and 1907.  Each issue is indexed completely, including articles, art notes, illustrations, stories, poems, and advertisements.  A keyword search of "whistler" yields 168 items ranging from reviews to sales notices to lecture notices to articles.

Electronic Resources page


New York Times Historical

Index to New York Times articles published between 1851 and 1999.  Includes many articles about Whistler, which cover his personal life as well as his art.  Recommendation: restrict a search to citation and abstract (rather than searching article text) to reduce search results to the more relevant articles.

Electronic Resources page


Nineteenth-Century Masterfile

Index to English and American journal and newspaper articles published in the 19th and early 20th century, e.g. the New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, the London Times, and Harper's.  Also incorporates indexes of 19th century monographs, legal periodicals, patents, and some U.S. government publications and presidential papers.  Citations only.

Electronic Resources page


PCI  (Periodicals Contents Index), 1770-1993

A major retrospective electronic indexing project that covers mainly scholarly and academic journals in the humanities and social sciences from their beginnings to the 1990s.  Some popular or general-interest publications are included.  Citations only.

Electronic Resources


Pro-Quest Index to Historical Newspapers

Indexes (among other titles) the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Boston Globe.  Full-text.  Coverage varies from publication to publication.

Williams Electronic Indexes and Databases


Print Indexes


Poole's Index to Periodical Literature, 1802-1907.  Boston:  James R. Osgood, 1882 – 1908.

Index to 479 American and English periodicals, mostly general-interest but with a few on special subjects.  A subject index only.  Points to bear in mind:  1) authors are not indexed;  2) articles having a distinct subject are entered under that subject;  3)  articles having no subject (fiction, poems, plays) are entered under the first word that is not an article.  4)  To ascertain the date of a periodical (only volume numbers are given in the entries), check either the "Chronological Conspectus" in each volume, or use Date and Volume Key (see below). 

Supplements to Poole's:

Cumulative Author Index to Poole's Index to Periodical Literature (Sawyer Ref A13 W3)

Poole's Index, Date and Volume Key (Sawyer Ref  Z674 A75 no.19)

Sawyer Reference Area 


Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, 1901 - .  H.W. Wilson, 1905 -.

Began in 1901 as an index for small libraries, covering at first only a few titles; it expanded year by year and absorbed other indexes so titles vary over time.  As of 1953, Readers' Guide indexes "U.S. periodicals of a broad, general, and popular character" and a selection of U.S. popular, non-technical magazines from important scientific and humanistic fields. 

Sawyer Reference Area


International Index to Periodicals.  New York: H. W. Wilson, 1907-1955.

International Index.   New York: H. W. Wilson, 1956-1965.

Social Sciences and Humanities Index. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1966-1974.

Social Sciences Index.  New York:  H. W. Wilson, 1974 - .

Humanities Index.  New York:  H. W. Wilson, 1974 - .

An author and subject index to scholarly periodicals in the humanities and social sciences.  Coverage varies.  Social sciences and humanities journals were indexed together until 1974, when each split off into its own index.

Sawyer Reference Area


Nineteenth Century Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, 1890 – 1899, with supplementary indexing 1900 – 1922.  NY: H.W. Wilson, 1944.

Author, subject, and title index to 51 periodicals indexed 1890 to 1899; of these a small number of titles were indexed as far as 1922.  Periodicals are mainly general- interest and literary, with some included from specialized fields.  Full entry is under author's name.  In many cases the authors of anonymously published articles (a common occurrence in publishing at this time) were ascertained from publishers' records.

Sawyer Ref AI3  R496



Online Resources


Amico Library from RLG.

Amico is "a growing online collection documenting 115,000 works of art from around the world. Images, text and multimedia represent a broad range of works of art from the collections of the members of the Art Museum Image Consortium, highlighting the creative output of cultures around the world, from prehistoric to contemporary times."  Includes many paintings and prints by Whistler and his students.

Electronic Resources page


Archival, Manuscript, and Photographic Collections Catalog, Smithsonian Institution Research and Information System (SIRIS).

230,000 descriptions of personal papers, manuscripts, photographs, oral histories, sound recordings, films, and organizational records from nine repositories. Over 100,000 scanned images are available online.  A search for Whistler will bring up 66 entries that include collections of letters, selected papers, exhibition records, and other documents.  Many entries include links to finding aids and helpful bibliographies.  SIRIS materials on microfilm may sometimes be obtained through Interlibrary Loan. - focus-


Archival Resources: Collections and Finding Aids. 

A database of the archives of hundreds of research libraries worldwide.  A simple search for "whistler" yields 162 bibliographic records and 213 finding aids (bibliographic records being records that describe archival collections and items, and finding aids being detailed inventories that list where an archival collection came from, how it is arranged, and what it contains – some of these are searchable). 

Electronic Resources page


ArtCyclopedia:  James McNeill Whistler.

AC's mission is "to become the definitive and most effective guide to museum-quality fine art on the Internet" and it includes links for "most well-known artists."  The page for Whistler lists links to museums with Whistler collections, to AC pages on other artists who were Whistler's students or teachers, to other websites, to image databases, and to selected articles. This site is useful for finding images.


Art Inventories Catalog.  Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS), Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Two comprehensive listings, The Inventory of American Paintings Executed before 1914 and The Inventory of American Sculpture, provide information on more than 360,000 artworks in public and private collections worldwide.  IAP includes works by artists born or active in this country by 1914.  Information about each work includes title, date, medium, dimensions, subject, owner, and reference (e.g. an exhibition catalog).  Lists 1,077 works by Whistler.  The database does not include images.



A repository for hundreds of thousands of digital images and related data.   ARTstor is best used with its Offline Image Viewer; instructions for downloading and using the OIV can be obtained from the Reference or the Visual Resources departments in the library.  ARTstor must be used on your own PC to use it in conjunction with the OIV.


Centre for Whistler Studies, University of Glasgow. 

On this website you can find information about the Centre; a synopsis of Whistler's life, exhibitions and new publications on Whistler; an archive site for the Whistler 2003 Centenary; and most importantly the online Whistler Correspondence Project (includes letters from 1855-1895).  Letters in the Correspondence Project are not images of the originals but are transcribed; however, they are carefully footnoted with information about the contents of the letter (e.g. a letter about admission to the Royal Academy includes much information about the RA and the admission process).  The Correspondence database is searchable by person, date, work of art, and other parameters.


Joseph and Elizabeth Robins Pennell Collection of Whistleriana:  Graphic art and papers of James McNeill Whistler; photographs, publications, and research materials relating to his life.   

Description of the collection of Whistler works and manuscripts given to the Library of Congress by the Pennells.  Mentions books and finding aids that may be useful, and includes some images from the collection.


Making of America website. 

Making of America (MOA) represents a major collaborative endeavor to preserve and make accessible through digital technology a significant body of primary sources related to development of the U.S. infrastructure.  The complete MOA collection includes over 1.5 million images, representing approximately 5,000 volumes of primary source materials.  Cornell has focused on the major journal literature of the period, ranging from general interest publications to those with more targeted audiences (such as agriculture). The Michigan process focused on monographs in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, science and technology, and religion.


Whistler Online Catalog, Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow.

Website includes a catalogue of images, a timeline of Whistler's life, a short bibliography of catalogues raisonnés and books on Whistler, links to other Whistler collections and archives, and contact information for the HAG. 

The catalogue "provides information on 80 oil paintings, several hundred drawings, watercolours and pastels, and over 1,500 impressions of Whistler's etchings and lithographs. In addition there are illustrations of all of the paintings, drawings and watercolours, and an example of each title of Whistler's prints represented in the Collection."


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