For Subject searches try:
Women have made significant contributions to photography since its inception. Here are some artists to browse:
Photo by Alex Slade, Assistant Chair, Fine Arts
Encyclopedias are an excellent beginning way to find good background information. Oxford Art Online is an excellent academic online encyclopedia. Movements -- like Bauhaus and Postmodernism -- will be defined, sometimes in great detail. But don't expect every photographer to be listed there. Sometimes a print version subject-specific encyclopedia or biographical dictionary, such as Contemporary Photographers, and American Photographs, will include more. These are located in the TR section of the Reference area of the Library.
Art Source is an excellent database which broadly covers art, photography, and design periodicals. It's available through the link to Databases on all Library web pages.
Once you get a list of hits, look at them carefully. You can determine a lot simply by reading the titles. Sometimes you will see an indication about the content of the article, such as that it is an exhibition review. Obituaries are generally not critical, but they are often good summations of an artist's career. Ignore the book reviews and reproductions. Those won't help. Notice that the page numbers are listed. Longer articles will probably be more in-depth. Also, notice if there is an author listed. Reviews by known writers are preferable.
Many databases include "full-text" articles. Although originally published in print, it means that the actual article is reproduced there in plain text or a PDF version. Lucky you. You can read the articles on screen, email them to yourself, or print them.
One problematic aspect about databased articles is that you don't see them in the context of the full magazine. Unless you look at the actual original print version, you may have difficulty evaluating the publication. As design students, it's a good idea to become familiar with as many of these periodicals as you can, so do have a look at some of these magazines on the shelves.
You can't always find everything online in full-text.
When you need to locate the print version of a periodical, you can use the Otis collection of back issues, which includes hundreds of bound volumes. Some are in the Stacks and some in the Annex, which requires paging. Some databases have a link by to the Otis holdings or OPAC. Or you can look in Library's Magazine Holdings List.
In addition to the many fine arts magazines that cover fine arts photography, the following are dedicated to Photography.
The Vogue Archive has the entire full issues of every Vogue Magazine since it was first published in the late 1800s. You can search for photographers as well as advertising and designers.