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