tripping the links fantastic: Public Domain Images from the Farm Security Administration

Yesterday I was going to post on posters created by WPA artists (and I will) when I wandered into another collection on the incomparable Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.

Have you ever heard of the Farm Security Administration (FSA)? I expect not, but this was a New Deal Department of Agriculture agency that made loans to small farmers. It also had an Information Division that employed 22 photographers to go cross country documenting the people and places of what we now call the Great Depression.

Read more here.


Carol Highsmith: Generosity of Spirit

I had a lovely surprise in my email this morning: notification of a comment from Carol Highsmith.

If you’ve only recently started following this blog, I invite you to pop back to my post for Februry 17,  “Is Carol M. Highsmith the Most Generous Artist of Our Time?”.

Carol Highsmith is a highly regarded photographer who is donating her work, as it is created, to the Library of Congress and placing it in the public domain for free use, asking only for a credit line.

I cannot tell you how exceptional this is.

Continue reading here.


Is Carol M. Highsmith the Most Generous Artist of Our Time?

100,000 public domain digital images:  That is the estimated number of images  that Carol M. Highsmith (b. 1946) will one day have provided the public for their personal, educational, or commercial use all for the price of a credit line.  Since 1992, Carol M. Highsmith has donated her work and assigned her rights to the Library of Congress, and in 2002 began providing digital scans or digital photos, which will speed up the archiving of her images.  So far, over 2500  photos have been posted on the Library’s Prints and Photographs Online Catalog’s Highsmith Archive, and thousands more are in process.

Continue reading here.

Public Domain Images from the Library of Congress, Part 2

Since works created prior to 1923 are now in the public domain in the US, searching for images using keyword and “no known restrictions” in the Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Catalog will yield a lot of older photos. But not all are pre-1923. For example, consider these:











That’s Jackie Kennedy on her wedding day,  Sept. 12, 1953  [LOC, LC-USZC4-4332 ] and Sir Winston Churchill with his son and grandson preparing for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952 [LOC,LC-DIG-ppmsca-05370]. Both photos are by Toni Frissell.

Or these images of WWII:


 1943 US Navy photo of torpedo bombers  [LOC, LC-USZ62-113551]

Wreckage of USS Arizona, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 7, 1941  [LOC, LC-USZ62-132048]

And then there are so many subjects that don’t change much over time.


Continue reading “Public Domain Images from the Library of Congress, Part 2”

tripping the links fantastic: Public Domain Images at The Library of Congress

Break time! And the first post on some of my favorite links.

A fascinating site that offers a rare treasure — images in the public domain — is the Library of Congress’s Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. By no means are all images in the public domain. Fewer are than aren’t. But that still leaves thousands.

This is what you do:  go to the catalog and click through the agreement box. This takes you to the search page. You enter your keyword and, if you are looking for public domain images exclusively, this phrase: “no known restrictions.” Not “public domain”; that will get you nowhere. You want “no known restrictions.”

Let’s try the keyword shaman. Alone, you get 62 results, but not all are usable without seeking permission. Now try shaman + “no known restrictions.”  The yield drops to 24, but these are what you need. Here’s a sample. 3b20021r








I like this one. I might make him the blog’s mascot.

Once you click on the image, you see a tab at the top of the page called Bibliographic Infomation. Here we find a title for the picture, “Hamatsa emerging from the woods”; its date (1914), and a summary: “Hamatsa shaman, three-quarter length portrait, seated on ground in front of tree, facing front, possessed by supernatural power after having spent several days in the woods as part of an initiation ritual.” If you look under Subjects, you’ll figure out that the Hamatsa were natives of what became British Columbia. 

Continue reading “tripping the links fantastic: Public Domain Images at The Library of Congress”