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CRF Blog » Blog Archive » Historical images on the web

CRF Blog

Historical images on the web

by Laura Wesley

While I was trying to find cool free images for a PowerPoint I’m working on, I stumbled upon these neat web sites that have a ton of historical images in the public domain. If you’re looking for something to liven-up your worksheets or PowerPoints, take a look at the following sites:

U.S. History Images A large collection of public domain images.

A Clipart History Public domain images of the History of the World. Also Natural History and Fancy Letters suitable for school projects.

Library of Congress’ American Memory. Check copyright information for the separate items before deciding to use them!

The Newgate Calendar Mostly crimes and criminals from the 18th century. Also other works from Ex-Classics.

Liam’s Pictures From Old Books Collection images scanned from various old books that are now in the public domain. Searchable.

John Leech Sketch archives from Punch Archives from 1841 until 1864 from Punch magazine. The page states they are long out of copyright and that they are believed to be public domain.

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library Yale University’s online collection of digital images includes 90,000 images from rare books and manuscripts. Search by keyword.

New York Public Library Over 500,000 images scanned from books, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more. There is a per-image usage fee even for public domain images.

Old Book Illustrations Images scanned from old books. The site states that images are the works of artists who “have been dead for over seventy years, which makes them part of the public domain in many countries.” Searchable by keywords.

America As It Was A huge resource for vintage postcards in the U.S., organized by state. Any postcard first published in the U.S. before 1978 without an explicit copyright notice is in the public domain. Lots of photos, aerial views, and maps of many U.S. locations.

The Secret Museum of Mankind A collection of anthropological photographs published in a 1935 book without copyright. Scanned and released under a CC-NC license, but images should be public domain, at least in the U.S., since they are faithful reproductions of public domain images. (Warning: Strong 1930s racist P.O.V.)

Yestercards A very large free database of vintage greeting cards and postcards published in the U.S. Indexed. Organized by category.

World War II Poster Collection Over 300 posters issued by U.S. Federal agencies.

Photos of the Great War Many images of World War I, scanned from public domain resources.

Heritage of the Great War has several color pictures from World War I (likely all public domain since the effort taken to scan/reproduce them probably fails to qualify for being a derivative work.

World’s Armed Forces Forum Gallery of images taken from the French Ministry of Culture’s web site More color images of World War I (again all likely public domain).

History Place: Child Labor in America 1908– 1912 Photos by Lewis W. Hine.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Thousands of online, copyright free photographs of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Second World War.

See also Images and Pictures Links CRF’s collection of links to pictures, cartoons, and other digital image collections.