Digital image collection

The Folger's Digital image collection on LUNA offers online access to over 75,000 images from the Folger Shakespeare Library collection, including books, theater memorabilia, manuscripts, art, and more. Images are available in high resolution and users can show multiple images side-by-side, zoom in and out to see fine detail, view cataloging information when available, export thumbnails, and construct permanent URLs linking back to their favorite items or searches.

About the collection

You may use your web browser to access the collection through a convenient interface called LUNA.

Through the Digital image collection you can:

  • Compare 19th-century productions of Shakespeare with today's through historic photographs and promptbooks
  • Look at letters written by Queen Elizabeth I
  • Examine rare paintings in "up close and personal" detail
  • Read diary entries from over 200 years ago
  • And much more


The Folger digital image collection contains high resolution images requested for research, publication, and the web. Also included are items chosen for digitization by Curators, Conservators, and Reading Room Staff; or created for special projects, e.g., pre-1640 quarto editions of Shakespeare.

Some images are accompanied by Hamnet descriptions of the entire item, but in most cases only abbreviated information exists.

Included Features

  • The ability to create a shortened URL for sharing content (zoomable images, search results, slideshows, etc.) with standard tools like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Delicious, etc. For example, follow this durable URL to a zoomable version of a Hamlet title page. Zoom in and read the full inscription about Shakespeare, copied in a late seventeenth-century hand from a book by Dryden. Or, follow this link to retrieve Hamlet-related search results images in your browser. Learn more about linking and embedding in LUNA here.
  • The ability to create a "Web Widget" to embed into other applications your search results, slideshows, presentations or other LUNA views. This feature is available in LUNA. Refer to the link above to learn more about linking and embedding in LUNA.
  • Register an online user ID in LUNA. You can save multiple sets of images for later reference, along with private annotations you can make about the images you've selected. Follow this link for more about LUNA Registration and User Settings.
  • Access images in our Quartos and other cover-to-cover, page-by-page collections, which include digitized copies of 218 of the Folger Shakespeare Library's pre-1640 Shakespeare texts, including poems, plays, and "apocryphal" editions now known to have been written by someone else.
  • The ability to create and save groups of images for later reference. Follow this link for more on creating "Media Groups" in LUNA.


Basic keyword searching may be the best place for you to start searching the Folger digital image collection, for two reasons. First, a basic keyword search will find terms anywhere within whatever information accompanies an image. Second, our image databases are very much works in progress and some fields therefore are empty at the moment. To learn more about browsing and searching by keyword, refer to "Quick tips" below.

But use of the Advanced search feature can also be helpful in many cases, e.g. when searching for known items or when creating a persistent hyperlink for a specific subject, name, or boolean keyword search. This list of database fields is intended to help with Advanced searches, and with testing your Advanced search results. To learn more about these types of advanced searches, refer to "Digital Image Collection how-tos" below.

Image details

IMPORTANT: The "Image details" fields are mostly still empty. That is, even though they show up in the "search" drop-down menu, they contain no data, so a search will not produce results.

Image title: a brief description of the image.
Image producer name(s): where available, names of those associated with creation of the image (e.g., artists and engravers).
Transcribed information: transcription of printed or engraved captioning or title or title-like information.
Image details: may include details about cropping, exact location within a larger work, etc.
Image subject term(s): subject indexing of cultural and conceptual illustrative content.
Image IconClass number(s): iconographic classification codes (combinations of numbers and letters) assigned from the IconClass index.
Image bibliographical reference(s): citations to relevant reference works.
Image order: provides details about the order of appearance, when multiple images occur within a larger work.
Page height: a measurement in millimeters.
Page width: a measurement in millimeters.
Event title: a brief description of a Folger event where the photo was taken.
Event date: the date of a Folger event where the photo was taken.

Source details and administrative metadata

Source creator: an author or other personal or corporate name associated with creation of the source in which the image appears.
Source title: title of the source in which the image appears.
Source created or published: imprint -- or sometimes date only -- of the source in which the image appears.
Physical description: details of pagination / foliation, and/or extent of illustration, and/or height in centimeters of the source in which the image appears.
Copyright information: may contain rights information crediting individual photographers.
Source call number: the designated shelf location for the the source in which the image appears.
Digital image file name: a unique numeric ID for the image file.
Digital image type: a field containing one of four possible values: FSL building, FLS collection, FSL event, or Theatre production.
Hamnet catalog link: a hyperlink to the Hamnet bibliographic description (when available).
ESTC catalog link: a hyperlink to the English Short Title Catalog bibliographic description (when available).
Hamnet bib ID: a unique numeric ID for a relevant Hamnet bibliographic description.
Hamnet holdings ID: a unique numeric ID for a relevant Hamnet copy-specific description.
Multiple page sort order: a non-displaying field that can be used in post-search sorting. Primarily used in sorting image sets for bound items digitized cover-to-cover.

Hamnet catalog record

Some images in the Folger digital image collection are accompanied only by abbreviated data records, with fields of the sort described above. However, other image descriptions are supplemented with bibliographic data pulled in from Hamnet.

Some of these Hamnet records may provide additional details that do not appear in "Image" or "Source" fields. Other Hamnet records may describe an entire source item, but may not fully describe the specific portion photographed.

The following fields from Hamnet records may appear in the LUNA digital image database descriptions:

Uniform title
Alt. title
Place of creation or publ.
Creator or publisher
Date of creation or publ.
Physical description
Folger holdings notes
Associated name
Call number

Quick tips

The following tips and suggestions can help you get the results you are looking for when browsing the Digital Collection.

Some images are accompanied by Hamnet records which describe the entire item, not the specific portion photographed. In many cases only abbreviated data records are provided. Thumbnail browsing can be a great way to explore our content without having to enter search terms. In LUNA, you have the option of browsing through up to 250 thumbnails at a time. You can also narrow any browse or search results by selecting a What, Where, Who or When Category from the "Narrow Search" lists displayed on each screen of thumbnails. Follow this link for more about browsing in LUNA on the web.

Searching by Keyword in LUNA

A search by keyword is often the best place to start. A keyword search finds terms anywhere within the information that accompanies an image. Keyword Search in LUNA works much like in a search engine, so you can use the AND, OR, NOT, and " " to help refine your search. You can also use wildcard characters like "*" and "?". For example, enter "Par*" for results like Paris, Parigi, Paraguay, etc. Enter "Rom?" for search results like Rome and Roma.

Digital Image Collection how-tos

Here are instructions and examples of how to create permanent links to images or searches, how to find known items, and how to get into our page-by-page pre-1640 Shakespeare quartos.

Creating permalinks to one or more selected images or to a search

At any point while in LUNA you can click on the "Share This" link and copy the displayed URL. This shortened permalink URL can be pasted into an email, text document or instant message so you can share your work with others. This is not the same as copying the URL from the browser. The "Share This" URL will ensure that the exact placement, zooming, and general look of your current view are preserved.

  • Here's an example that will let you zoom in on the map at the top of this page.
  • Here's an example that will retrieve all items with the keyword "map."
Searching for known items

In many cases only abbreviated data records are provided. So a very useful LUNA search to know how to do is to search by call number:

  1. Choose Advanced Search in LUNA
  2. Use the third set of search boxes, the one that provides find this exact wording:
  3. Then choose Source Call Number from the field dropdown
  4. When you begin typing the shelfmark you'll get a dropdown showing you the available items in the call number range you are searching. Click the call number you want.
Searching for images of the Folger building

The main Folger Shakespeare Library building was designed by architect Paul Philippe Cret and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. A variety of Virtual Tour features on this website let you take a closer look, but the image database also includes over 100 images of the building. To browse these shots of the architecture and grounds:

  1. Choose Advanced Search in LUNA
  2. Use the third set of search boxes, the one that provides find this exact wording:
  3. Then choose Digital Image Type from the field dropdown
  4. Type 'FSL building' and click the search button.
Accessing page-by-page views of books in the Folger collection

Check out Folger Tooltips: Cover-to-Cover for details on accessing cover-to-cover page images of early printed books and bound manuscripts from the Folger collection.

Further questions, data errors, and software problems

Consult our "How To" guides and Luna Imaging's help manuals, referenced below. Email us at

LUNA tutorials

These brief tutorials will help you get the most out of using the Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection.

General overviews of LUNA

  • General LUNA Overview (13:24) (Cannot find this link!)
  • Searching LUNA (7:52)

Media groups

Creating media groups allows users to "bookmark" groups of images and is the first step in creating slide shows or presentations.

This tutorial explains how to reorder images in your Media Group, how to create an instant slide show, and how to export a Media Group to PowerPoint.

This tutorial explains how to organize your Media Groups into folders and how to edit or delete your Media Groups.

LUNA makes it very easy to share Media Groups between LUNA users. This tutorial explains how to clone (copy), create a slide show, or to export Media Groups that are publicly available.


For more tutorials on how to search and view media in LUNA, please see the LUNA Flash Tutorials Webpage at Luna Imaging Inc.

For more assistance, see Search fields for the Bindings Image Collection.

Answers to questions and additional assistance can always also be had by contacting us at