12 million historic rights-free images, coming to the internet

An American academic is creating a searchable database of 12 million historic rights-free images, uploaded to Flickr.

Image from page 113 of “Our domestic animals, their habits, intelligence and usefulness;” (1907)

Kalev Leetaru has already uploaded more than 2.6 million images to the Internet Archive Book Images group on Flickr. Leetaru is a fellow at Georgetown University, where his fellowship is sponsored by Flickr owner Yahoo.

According to the BBC, the images are all sourced from more than 600 million library book pages scanned in by the Internet Archive organisation. They range from 1500 to 1922 and can be copied and used without charge.

Image from page 359 of “Living London; its work and its play, its humour and and its pathos, its sights and its scenes;” (1902)

Each image was processed using code developed by Leetaru. The caption for each image was copied and tagged in Flickr, creating an archive that can be searched using individual words or terms.

Leetaru told the BBC, ‘I think one of the greatest things people will do is time-travel through the images.

Image from page 1055 of “The Ladies’ home journal” (1889

‘Type in the telephone for example and you will see that all the initial images are of businesspeople and mostly men. Then you see it morph into more of a tool to connect families.’

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You can access all the images here

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