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Library of Congress Makes Finding Free to Use Material Easy


Yellowstone National Park, Ranger Naturalist Service, ca. 1938

Where can you go if you want to peruse vintage travel posters, Civil War photography, or explore America via WPA imagery? The Library of Congress, of course. As the United States’ oldest federal institution, the Library Congress has become the de facto repository of all things associated with American history. Thanks to the institution’s large digital collection, it’s possible to gain access to millions of items right from your computer.

The Library of Congress doesn’t only place materials online, but also organizes them in a fashion that makes it easy and enjoyable to conduct research. As the base for the U.S. Copyright Office, the Library of Congress also helps demystify what users can and cannot do with the materials found online. Their Free to Use and Reuse collections are filled with interesting items that the Library of Congress is “either in the public domain, has no known copyright, or has been cleared by the copyright owner for public use.”

Thematic sets are first placed on the LoC’s homepage and then moved to the Free to Use landing page. Seasonal collections like Thanksgiving in History are joined by topics as diverse as Baseballs Cards and Dogs. Poster Parade is a recent collection of posters from the 1890s through the 1960s that were used for travel, entertainment, propaganda, commercial products, and more.

For history buffs, collections related to Abraham Lincoln and Civil War Drawings may be of interest, while those in love with Americana won’t want to miss the John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive. With new collections always being added, there’s never a shortage of new imagery to explore.

The Library of Congress has a vast digital collection, including many materials that are available for free use and reuse.

19th Century Portraits

Bertha Barber, 19th century

h/t: [Open Culture]

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