New York Public Library Digital Collections

New York World’s Fair 1939-1940 records, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library

There is a growing movement within libraries and other institutions to allow freer use of resources that are without copyright restrictions.  This movement has even extended to the law in some places.  In the United Kingdom the courts recently ruled that photographs of items in the public domain (such as works of art) are also in the public domain.

The New York Public Library recently announced a change in their policy concerning the use of items in the public domain within their digital collections.  They have actually made it easier for people to freely use the items in their digital collections, going so far as to provide high resolution images that are available to download with one click.

On this blog I try to use my own images, but there are time when I don’t have what I need in my own collection.  It is great that institutions like NYPL are willing to share their riches, and thus to contribute to all the great scholarship that I see in fashion history blogs.  And I’m sure that this applies to other topics as well.

For a long time the internet has been like a giant free-for-all when it comes to images, and even content.  Perhaps the thinking at NYPL and other institutions is along the lines of, “If you can’t lick them, join them.”  People are going to take the stuff anyway, so providing them with the tools necessary to properly attribute the images used will keep images from being separated from their history.   Let’s hope so, anyway.

There is a search function, of course, but images are also arranged in categories and sub-categories.  I’m warning you though, this is a very deep rabbit hole, with more than 180,000 images.  Have fun!

New York World’s Fair 1939-1940 records, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library

L.Bonnotte, 1920, Art and Picture Collection. The New York Public Library

1895 Basket Ball Team of Smith College, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, NYPL

Fashion Print, 1931, Art and Picture Collection, New York Public Library

Grace Wiederseim, 1904, Art and Picture Collection, New York Public Library

Wool Cycling Dress With Pleated Back ; Tennis Costume Of Cream Flannel With Striped Sleeves & Trim, Black Ties 1891, Art and Picture Collection, New York Public Library

My search term, “sports women”, produced all the above images.


Filed under Viewpoint, Vintage Photographs

10 responses to “New York Public Library Digital Collections

  1. Love getting lost in their online archives! Thanks for finding such great images, Lizzie ~


  2. FANtastic!!! I live in the town where Smith College is. I believe that if you put today’s (white) students in those uniforms and styled their hair, they would not look much different, especially those toughies in the top row.


  3. Wonderful resource! Personally, I follow the “fair use” policy with images. If I am using them only once for research purposes and am not making money from them, I think that it is fair to feature them on my blog. But it is great that some providers are now explicitly facilitating that. Those World’s Fair Images are priceless–I’ve used a few myself. You’ve inspired me to look again.


  4. The NYPL archives are full of fun stuff! I was looking at some of the World’s Fair images recently; they’re fantastic. I wish those who reposted images would credit back to the source, but I see unsourced images on a daily basis on Tumblr and Pinterest, and I’ve fallen down many a timesuck-hole trying to find the sources (it’s much more aggravating when I find the source immediately). I know I don’t need to explain to you the problems that occur when an item isn’t sourced . . . very often a date is off or the information is just completely incorrect. I’m not a historian, but I do like to know the context of an image.


  5. Pingback: Gail’s Favorite Books (Miss Carriger Recommends) - Gail Carriger

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