Skip to Main Content

Drama 111

Finding Images

Reference images are crucial to theatrical design.  You will want to see both historical images (to get an idea of what Victorian England really looked like) and theatrical images (to see how others have produced this play). 

About Images

When you find an image, consider where it came from. Why was it created, when and by whom? If this information is not provided, you don't know whether the image is authentic, which limits its usefulness.

Type of image matters!

  • Photographs and physical objects (furniture, clothing, etc) are primary sources. They provide direct evidence of the time period in question -- and they aren't mediated by another person.
  • Paintings and drawings are secondary sources; they are evidence of the time period, but you are experiencing them through someone's interpretation. They can still provide information about what things may have looked like, but remember, the artist's agenda is not the same as yours! Artists sometimes distort things or make mistakes.

Of course, for some periods of time, primary sources may be difficult to come by. 

Secondary sources are fine, but it's a good idea to back them up with primary sources, or, if you can't, to look at as many different secondary sources as you can. 

Where to Look

  • Books (use OneSearch)
    • Books are another good source of images.  There is more information about book searches below. Note that if a book has a lot of images, the record may note it as "illustrated" or just "ill."

Background Information

Reference works are great for quick information about context.  Questions about aesthetic movements, particular theatrical strategies such as masks, or important individuals can often be answered with this sort of resource.

The bibliographies of reference works can help you find more detailed information. 

Some potentially useful references are listed on the right side of this page.

Background Information: Recommended Reference Works

On Level 3:

On Level 6:


Books often include both images and textual information, so they can show you both what something looks like and how it was used.

Strategies for Finding Books

You might start with a general keyword search, perhaps just something broad, like Victorian fashion.

Some of your results won't be relevant, but if you click on one that is, you'll find a list of subject headings that tell you what the book is about, and if you click on one of the subject headings, you'll find other books on the same topic. 

One of the things that's a little easier with OneSearch is modifying that topic, or searching within it. 

For example:

One of the headings I came across was Women's clothing -- History -- 19th century.

I could look for other books with this exact subject, or I could just take the first part of it (Women's clothing"), and add my own search terms as keywords.

Alternatively, I could modify it! If Women's clothing is a subject heading... then there's probably also a subject heading for men's clothing. 

Subject Headings

If you want to find subject headings more directly, you can find them under "Browse" in the OneSearch menu. 

I have compiled a partial list of subject headings that you may find useful: 

  • Architecture, Domestic -- England
  • Clothing and dress -- History
  • Costume -- Great Britain
  • Costume -- History
  • Decoration and ornament
  • Decorative arts
  • Dress accessories
  • Fashion -- History
  • Furniture -- History
  • Interior decoration
  • Stage-setting and scenery
  • Stage lighting

Note that these examples are just here to give you an example of the kinds of words that are used in subject headings. There are probably many more that you may find useful. 

Words that come after the dashes are subheadings -- they further subdivided the subject heading into parts. So, Architecture, Domestic -- England is a subject heading, but you can remove England and replace it with other countries, or you could use the search to look for other keywords within the concept of domestic architecture. 


Since books in the library are organized by topic, according to the Library of Congress classification scheme, you may just want to go up into the stacks and see what’s there.  Here are some call ranges you may want to try:
DA 550 - 565 History of Great Britain, Victorian era, 1837 - 1901
GT 500 – 2370 Costume. Dress. Fashion. (Levels 4 & 6)
NA 4100 – 8480 Architecture: Special classes of buildings (Level 6)
NK 1- 9990 Decorative Arts (Level 6)
PN 2085 – 2091 The Stage and Accessories (Levels 5 & 6)
TT 387 – 410 Soft home furnishings (Levels 5 & 6)
TT 490 – 695 Clothing manufacture. Dressmaking. Tailoring. (Levels 5 & 6)
Notice that these are far from the only call ranges that you may find relevant! Because theater can deal with any subject matter, almost any call range could hold books that might be relevant to one production or another.