Library Home Page:   E-Reference:

 Drew Library Catalog:   Research Resources: 

Drew University Library

Introduction to the History of American Interiors

Locating Books:

To identify books that are available, start by checking Drew Library’s catalog ( ).  Doing a keyword search for “interior design,” “furniture,” or a narrower terms such as "kitchen" will help you identify the specific subject headings you should use within library catalogs in general.  Follow up on any cross-referenced subject headings.

Other databases to check include:



The combined holdings of some 20,000 libraries.  Because it is such a large database, find the terms you want to search in the Drew Catalog first. (“Research Resources”)



New York Public Research Library’s catalog, including the holdings of the Art and Architecture Division ( )


Local public library catalogs

Select a library that’s strong in local history, such as Morristown/Morristownship Library – but be aware that they may have material in their local history section that does not show up in the catalog. ( ). A reasonably complete listing of the addresses of NJ library catalogs is maintained by the New Jersey State Library at



Locating Journal Articles:

To find modern journal articles on your topic, consult the following indexes to historical or technical literature (if no call number is provided, the index is available at the “Research Resources page):



America:  History and Life:  Indexes articles on US and Canadian history published since 1954.  Try searching “material culture,” as well as the specific items or locations you're interested in. Listed under "Humanities" on the Research Resources page (

Per Room



Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts, 1966-present:  Consult the “Subject Index” in the back of each volume, and look up the entry number in the front.


 Per Room

Art Index:  Indexes reports on exhibits, scholarly material on crafts, etc. Available electronically from 1984 on, and in paper from 1950 to 1983



Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals:  This index is the most specialized for the field.  Drew does not own or have access to it.  It is available at Rutgers, NJIT, New York Public Research, and Princeton.  The first three are accessible to the public.  Check with the Drew Reference Desk concerning admission to the Princeton libraries.


Locating Contemporary Journal or Newspaper Articles:
The concept of indexing is a relatively new one, and gathered momentum only around the turn into the twentieth century. Indexes of material prior to that time are scarce, narrow and clunky. Some examples of such resources:


 Per Room



New York Times Index, 1851-present

This is available in electronic format from the Joint Free Public Library of Morristown/Morristownship, at You will need a MAIN library card. You may also access it at Newark Public Library, NYPL Research, and Rutgers. There is also a modest index free at the NYT website, at Change the date range searched to 1851-1980, do a quick search, and then click on 'advanced' to narrow the dates. We have the Times on microfilm from 1851 on.

Per Room


Poole's Index to Periodical Literature, 1802-1907.
Indexes a select number of 19th century journals, primarily literary and political in focus. Plan to use it when there is a reference librarian available for assistance - the format is funky and non-intuitive. Drew owns some of the journals indexed.


 Per Room

19th Century Readers' Guide.
Don't get your hopes up - this only covers 1890-1899. Drew owns some of the journals indexed.



Does Drew Own the Journal?

To find out whether we own or have access to a specific journal title (nb: you're looking for the title of the journal, NOT the title of the article), consult the guide, Finding Periodicals, at


Locating Images:

Use the Drew Catalog or WorldCat to locate books on art, containing paintings that might include interiors.  A keyword search for “painting and 19th and ‘united states’” may retrieve books with illustrations of 19th century American painting.  Browse the books themselves.


Also consult Grove Dictionary of Art, which provides access to electronic images, both of works of art, and furniture.  Online at “Research Resources”. 


A Guide to American Trade Catalogs, 1744-1900 (016.381 R757g) lists contemporary manufacturers' or retailers' catalogs, which by the end of the 19th century were often heavily illustrated. Known locations are indicated, but you can also check WorldCat, although many libraries have not cataloged such publications.


Special Collections and Materials:

A host of other material, including local historical maps, microfilm images of census enumerations, and church records, are often housed in special collections or archives within libraries, and often not included in the library’s catalog.  Some suggestions:


  • Historical societies:  Newark Public Library has a list of local societies, along with their contact information, at .  (Newark Public also has the census records from 1830-1870.)
  • Morristown/Morristownship Public Library:  The Local History and Genealogy Department has a helpful web page at . They also have most of the few historical newspaper indexes for New Jersey, as well as nineteenth and early twentieth century census enumerations (exclusive of 1890). A recently acquired database is HarpWeek, a digitized Harper's Weekly, 1857-1912.
  • NYPL’s Art and Architecture Division provides a very useful research guide on interior design at
  • Historical Census Browser contains the aggregate data for censuses from 1790 – 1960, searchable by county.  This can help you determine average household size, age ranges, etc.  The variables that are available vary from census to census, with richer information for the later censuses.  Available at:

Contemporary Journals to Browse:
The following are possible titles Drew holds from the 19th and early 20th centuries, to peruse in search of illustrations:

  • American City, 1909-1938
  • American magazine, 1906
  • American Monthly Review of Reviews, 1897-1906
  • Atlantic Monthly, 1867-1930
  • Century Magazine, 1881-1980
  • Christian Herald, 1884-1914
  • Cosmopolitcan, 1886-1910
  • Fortune, 1930-1957
  • Friends' Intelligencer, 1853-1885
  • Harper's Magazine,1913-1949
  • Harper's Bazaar, 1868-1896, incomplete
  • Harper's Weekly, 1885; 1887-1896;1898-1901
  • John O'London's Weekly, 1931- 1942
  • Life, 1936-1958
  • Old Furniture: A Magazine of Domestic Ornament, 1927-1929
  • Outlook, 1893-1928
  • Pennsylvania Magazine, 1877-1952
  • Saturday Evening Post, 1939-1951
  • Southern Workman, 1900-1934, incomplete
  • Sunday School Times, 1859-1869
  • Time, 1926-1957
  • Volunteers' Gazette, 1896-1909
  • The World Today
  • World's Work, 1900-1932