American View Books


American View Books in the Avery Classics Collection provide pictorial documentation of a variety of American cities and towns. The collection comprises 6,000 volumes (broadly termed "books") in a variety of formats including printed books, photographic albums, and novelty formats. View books capture the buildings (residential, civic, ecclesiastical, commercial, and industrial), streetscapes, monuments, park lands, and landscapes that define the American built environment from the later 19th and 20th centuries. These books were often produced as souvenir books for tourists or to commemorate important events, such as expositions, or natural phenomena like earthquakes. They were produced using a variety of illustrative formats and photo-mechanical processes such as albumen prints, stereocards, lithographs, photolithographs, photogravures, photographs, and engravings. Our view books range in size from the smallest--the Nutshell Novelty Company's accordion of photographs of the St. Louis exposition bound in an actual walnut shell--to extraordinarily large folio-sized volumes. Taken together, the view books contain thousands of images and also include detailed texts describing the growth of local industries and churches, natural phenomena, and the construction of bridges and roads, along with biographical information on important residents.


Cataloging Hidden Collections

Amount Awarded

Year Added



Columbia University


  • Carole Ann Fabian

Collection Size

6000 objects

Date Range

1870 - 1970

Geographic Scope

Each of the 50 American states and pictorial documentation of the American landscape from the later 19th and 20th centuries.