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A Guide to Searching the Architecture Index Cards in the Arts Department

The Architecture Index Collection at the Boston Public Library Arts Department


The Architecture Index Collection at the Boston Public Library’s Arts Department is an extensive card index of architectural resources created over the course of 45 years by Fine Arts librarians. In 1968, realizing the wealth and depth of the architectural information contained within the Arts' holdings, the department began collecting and indexing this information on catalog cards. At the time referred to as “the Boston Index,” it is comprised of references to written descriptions, critiques, histories, illustrations, renderings, and plans of Boston’s urban landscape. The Index grew to include information on non-Massachusetts architects and projects too, though its strength is in the history of Boston’s built environment. The collection stopped being updated in 2013.

Card Catalog Drawer

What is a Card Catalog?

A card catalog is a set of index cards that record information about a collection, usually arranged by author, title, publisher/publication date, subject, and identifying number, or "call number." These cards can be grouped together in a number of ways, often resulting in multiple cards related to the same topic.

The Architecture Index Collection is made up of cards that either contain information in and of themselves, or point toward other resources in the Arts Department. There are a number of ways to find information in this collection, and this guide will orient you to the options for searching and requesting material.