Over 1 Million Historical Images Made Available by British Library

Marc-William Palen

[London, 1857] Image taken from page 464 of 'The eventful voyage of H.M. Discovery Ship “Resolute” to the Arctic Regions in search of Sir J. Franklin. ... To which is added an account of her being fallen in with by an American Whaler after her abandonment ... and of her [from the British Library Images Collection]

[London, 1857] Image taken from page 464 of ‘The eventful voyage of H.M. Discovery Ship “Resolute” to the Arctic Regions in search of Sir J. Franklin. … To which is added an account of her being fallen in with by an American Whaler after her abandonment … and of her [courtesy of the British Library]

Need some new visual resources for next term’s imperial or global history class? The British Library has now made available over 1 million images dating from the 17th to the 19th century.

We have released over a million images onto Flickr Commons for anyone to use, remix and repurpose. These images were taken from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th century books digitised by Microsoft who then generously gifted the scanned images to us, allowing us to release them back into the Public Domain. The images themselves cover a startling mix of subjects: There are maps, geological diagrams, beautiful illustrations, comical satire, illuminated and decorative letters, colourful illustrations, landscapes, wall-paintings and so much more that even we are not aware of.

[London, 1899] Image taken from page 349 of James Stafford Ransom, "Japan in Transition. A comparative study of the progress, policy, and methods of the Japanese since their war with China ... With ... maps ... and illustrations" [courtesy of the British Library]

[London, 1899] Image taken from page 349 of James Stafford Ransom, “Japan in Transition. A comparative study of the progress, policy, and methods of the Japanese since their war with China … With … maps … and illustrations” [courtesy of the British Library]

Also, if you have spare time, you can lend them a hand:

We are looking for new, inventive ways to navigate, find and display these ‘unseen illustrations’….We may know which book, volume and page an image was drawn from, but we know nothing about a given image…We plan to launch a crowdsourcing application at the beginning of next year, to help describe what the images portray…If you need help or would like to collaborate with us, please contact us on email, or twitter.

Be sure to have a look!

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