@Dumbarton Oaks

Collection PH.BZ.003 - Index of Christian Art, 1917-1991

Identity area

Reference code



Index of Christian Art, 1917-1991


  • 1917-1991 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

Card catalogs and photograph files representing approximately 200,000 objects

Context area

Name of creator

Princeton University. Department of Art and Archaeology. Index of Christian Art (1917-present)

Administrative history

Founded in 1917 by Charles Rufus Morey, the Index is a thematic and iconographic index of early Christian and medieval art objects, primarily before 1400 CE. The original card file with photographs held in the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. Additional copies are located at: Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C.; The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles; and the Library of Arts and Humanities, Utrecht University, Holland. A fourth copy is still housed in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana in Rome, Italy, but has not been maintained since 2005. Since 1991, the Index has also been available online: http://ica.princeton.edu/.

Name of creator

Morey, Charles Rufus (1877-1955)

Biographical history

American Medieval art historian. Founder of the Index of Christian Art. Morey was chairman of the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University from 1924 to 1945.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Robert and Mildred Bliss purchased a copy of the Index of Christian Art, for Dumbarton Oaks, from Princeton University in 1938. See Allied Materials Area for more information.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

A thematic and iconographic index of early Christian and medieval art objects, primarily before 1400 CE. This Index records works of art depicting a Christian theme or context, in seventeen different media, including manuscripts, metalwork, sculpture, painting, and glass. Works are from around the world, with an emphasis on Western art. Records include information such as artist's name, title of work, medium, and provenance. In addition, Index records provide bibliographic citations and location of reproductions. Bibliographic citations cover art history, archaeology, religious and classical studies.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

It is arranged in two separate file formats: subject cards and photographs. The Subject Files are a thematic index to the photographs. The cards are filed alphabetically on an iconographical basis starting with Alpha and Omega and ending with Zwentibold of Lorraine (a saintly bishop of the tenth century). There are over 28,000 subject terms which deal predominantly with Christian iconography but which also cover the entire range of medieval art. Each work of art has a primary subject, which relates to the first scene described. Other subjects on the work are found under secondary terms (cross-references) on separate cards. The subject cards refer users to the photographs which comprise some 200,000 images, each with brief accompanying data on the work of art. Also listed on the photograph is a reference to the secondary subject terms. The black and white photographs are filed according to medium and current location (city or town).

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access to the collection is unrestricted. It is available for research purposes. Appointment is required for access because researcher space is limited: http://www.doaks.org/icfa-appointment-request-form. Researchers are also encouraged to consult the online version to familiarize themselves with iconographic subject terms used in the Index, which is also available on-site at Dumbarton Oaks: http://ica.princeton.edu/index.php.

Conditions governing reproduction

Photographs are for research and study purposes only. Dumbarton Oaks does not hold copyright to any of the images in the Index. Permission to reproduce the images must be requested from the relevant source.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

The original Index of Christian Art is housed in the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University.

Existence and location of copies

Since 1991, the Index files have been progressively made available through an online database, as well as approximately 120,000 images of objects: http://ica.princeton.edu/index.php. Additionally, three physical copies may be consulted at Dumbarton Oaks, The Getty Research Institute, and the Universiteitsbibliotheek Utrecht.

Related units of description

Notes area

Access points

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Description control area

Description identifier


Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)



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Rights area

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Start date

End date

Rights note(s)

Preferred Citation: Contact the Index of Christian Art for information how to cite materials found in the archive: http://ica.princeton.edu/location.php.



Related right





Start date

End date

Rights note(s)

Materials are for research and study purposes only.



Copyright status

Under copyright

Copyright status date

Copyright jurisdiction

Copyright note

Accession area