Library of Congress Places 3,000 Photos on Flickr

Library of Congress Places 3,000 Photos on Flickr

The Library of Congress announced January 16 that it has teamed with the photo-sharing website Flickr to broaden public access to the 14 million photographs and other visual items in LC’s collections.

The pilot project is beginning with 3,000 photos from two of the library’s most popular collections—the George Grantham Bain Collection, featuring the photographic files of one of America’s earliest news picture agencies, and Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information photos of rural and farm life and World War II mobilization taken between 1939 and 1944—that have been placed in an area of Flickr designated as The Commons. The project includes only images for which no copyright restrictions are known to exist.

The library also hopes to use the public to enhance the collection’s utility. As LC Director of Communications Matt Raymond said on the library’s blog, “The real magic comes when the power of the Flickr community takes over. We want people to tag, comment, and make notes on the images, just like any other Flickr photo, which will benefit not only the community but also the collections themselves. For instance, many photos are missing key caption information such as where the photo was taken and who is pictured. If such information is collected via Flickr members, it can potentially enhance the quality of the bibliographic records for the images.”

In other photographic news at LC, three glass negatives that show the crowd gathered at the U.S. Capitol for Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address on March 4, 1865, were recently discovered in the library’s collections. The negatives had been mislabeled as being either the Grand Review of the Armies or the inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant. The misidentification was discovered January 4 by photography curator Carol Johnson, who was checking old logbooks and found the annotation “Lincoln?” in the margin. A comparison to the two only other known photos of Lincoln’s second inauguration confirmed that the three negatives depict the same event. The three photos are viewable on the library’s website here, here, and here.

Posted January 18, 2008.