The Index of American Design consists of approximately 18,000 watercolor renderings of American decorative art objects from the colonial period through the 19th century. Produced between 1936 and 1942, this visual archive reflects the expanding interest in American material culture that began to emerge at that time. The CD includes more than 350 images selected from 11 subject areas ranging from costumes to woodcarving, as well as an overview of the project's history illustrated with archival photographs.
Surveys of American Crafts and Folk Arts from the Index of American Design are also available as separate teaching packets with an accompanying slideset and audiocassette of the following subject areas (click on individual titles below to see an online slideshow):
- Costume: A sampling of women's fashions from the late 18th century through the Victorian era, also including articles of clothing worn by men and children
- Dolls: Includes both handmade and factory-produced dolls
- Folk Arts of the Spanish Southwest: Crafts produced in New Mexico and California by Native Americans and colonial settlers under Spanish missionary influence
- Furniture: Traces the development of fine American furniture, pointing out relationships with English styles
- Metalwork: Features 18th- and 19th-century articles produced from iron, tin, copper, pewter, and silver
- Pennsylvania German Folk Art: Crafts of the German settlers in Pennsylvania, with particular attention given to decoration and design motifs
- Pottery: A survey of American pottery, dealing with techniques and the development of forms and glazes
- Shaker Crafts: Traditions of Shaker design within the context of their unique culture
- Textiles: A survey of textile production from home manufacture to professional weavers and early textile mills
- Toys: Objects shown and discussed include hobbyhorses, carved animals, models, mechanical toys, coin banks, and puppets
- Woodcarving: Selected examples of woodcarving produced by amateur and professional craftsmen.