Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday's Tips - Open source historical photographs

I am passionate about ensuring that I have visuals to go with each of my blog posts, but I always want to make sure that I have appropriate authority to post those photos on my blog without violating copyright issues. I was putting together a post today and came across some great historical photograph repositories with photographs that have no known copyright restrictions.

The Library of Congress Flickr Photo Stream

This photo stream includes images from the Library of Congress' massive collection, located on the public photo sharing site, Flickr. The stream includes Civil War images, historical newspapers, color 1930s/1940s photographs and news photos from the 1910s, plus much more. All of the photos are listed as having no known copyright restrictions, meaning that you can place them on your blog. Of course, you'll still want to attribute the photograph to the Library of Congress.

The U.S. National Archives Flickr Photo Stream

The National Archives photo stream is very robust and includes photographs and document images. You could dig around in this stream for a very long time. One of my favorite finds:
We Can Do It!  Created by the Office for Emergency Management. War Production Board. (01/1942 - 11/03/1945), Repository: Still Pictures Unit at the National Archives at College Park
Note that just because an image is on Flickr doesn't mean you can place it on your blog free and clear. Each contributor chooses how to license their images on the site. On Flickr the licensing information in on the right side of the screen for each photograph.
In this sample, the photographer retains all rights to the photograph. Other users, such as photographs taken by the U.S. Army, are posted as "Some Rights Reserved." This indicates that you are free to use the photograph, but you must attribute it to the original author. If the usage of a Flickr image is unclear, feel free to contact the owner and ask for more information. I found a great photo on Flickr and sent an email to the owner stating how I wanted to use it and they granted their permission (though I got the impression they were very surprised that I asked). For more information on licensing visit the Creative Commons website.
Wikimedia Commons

This site includes more than 12 million freely usable images. It is not restricted to historical images, although the National Archives also posts its images on this page. I have found this to be a useful site to get photographs of locations that I mention on my blog, such as this great photograph of Kansas City:
While the images on this site are free for use, some do indicate specific usage guidelines. Underneath the photograph in this site you will find the "Permission" rights.
Note that the owner of the Kansas City photo above has indicated that the photo may be used without any restriction. Other photos have more restricted permissions.
In the above sample, the owner of the photograph states that the photo must be attributed to them. When using Wikimedia Commons always be sure to determine the licensing of each individual photo, as they vary by contributor.

The bottom line is that if you have not taken a photo, always question whether or not you can use it free and clear. These photo sites will offer you some new options for adding visuals to your blog. And, if you're handy with a camera, think about contributing some of your photos to the greater good! What photo resource sites have you used?

7 comments:

zelsersk said...

Good info! So far, I've just used my own photos which can be fairly limited so my posts don't always have the visual included.

Nancy said...

Reading your post, Heather, gave me the idea to add a gadget list to my blog with links to free photo websites. I always start googling to search for the free/with permission sites. Thanks for the idea! (We'll see how quickly I succeed, though.) And thanks for mentioning the LoC and National Archives sites.

Shelley Bishop said...

Great post, Heather. Thank you for these links and your insights! I'm always looking for photos for my blog, too.

BettyF said...

Thanks for all of the good information about the open source historical photos!

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Thanks, everyone, I hope these links are helpful...I've already used them twice since I found them!

Beth Lee Southworth said...

Thanks for these links, Heather! I'm looking forward to lots of fun browsing.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

I hope they are helpful, Beth. I've had great luck finding images with all of them!