Free to Use and Reuse: Gorgeous Gardens, Breakthrough Buildings and Notable Designs

A Frances Benjamin Johnston lantern slide of the gardens of Beacon Hill House in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1917. Beacon Hill House was razed in 1967, and the garden acres were sold for a subdivision, making this photo an important historical record as well as a stunning image.

Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864–1952) loved beautiful gardens. From 1915 through the 1930s, she shared her enthusiasm in lectures to garden club members, museum groups and horticultural societies. No doubt her listeners valued her knowledge of gardens—but they may have enjoyed her visual examples even more.

Johnston—one of the first women to achieve international prominence as a photographer—illustrated her lectures with glass lantern slides created from her black-and-white photographs. Guided by notes from Johnston, colorists carefully hand-painted small glass transparencies that, once inserted into a projector, cast an enlarged image on a screen.

The Library of Congress purchased Johnston’s archive from her estate in 1953, including more than a thousand garden lantern slides. They had not been seen since the 1910s to 1930s until the Library digitized the images and put them online in 2012. The project was possible because of extensive research and new insights from house and garden historian Sam Watters, who spent five years working with the collection.

Some of Johnston’s slides are highlighted this month under the “free to use and reuse” feature on the Library’s home page. Each month, the website showcases content from the Library’s collections that has no known copyright restrictions. The items are U.S. government works, in the public domain, or cleared for public use by copyright owners—meaning you can use them as you wish.

This month, we are highlighting architecture and design: Carol M. Highsmith photographs of architectural gems by John Eberson and Frank Lloyd Wright; beautiful images from the Historic American Buildings Survey; drawings and designs for landmarks and landmark structures—and more.

Scroll down to view some examples.

A photograph by Carol M. Highsmith of the Carpenter Theatre in Richmond, Va., designed by John Eberson.

A photograph from the Historic American Buildings Survey of Fallingwater in Fayette County, Pa., designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Maya Lin created the design in 1981 when she was as a student at Yale University’s School of Architecture.

An 1807 site plan by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe of the White House’s principal story.

From High Style to Humble: Surveying America’s Built Environment

Settlers’ cabins, high-style mansions, jails, barns and churches. These are just a few of the properties the Historic American Buildings Survey has painstakingly documented over the past 80 plus years. The Library started digitizing the survey’s records—many of them stunning and unique—20 years ago, providing public access on its website. Known as HABS for short, […]

Photographs Document Early Chinese Immigration

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. This annual recognition of Asian Pacific Americans’ contributions started with a 1977 congressional resolution calling for a weeklong observance. In 1992, President George H. W. Bush extended it to the entire month of May. At the Library of Congress, Asian American Pacific Islander resources include books, oral histories, […]

Happy 100th Birthday, I. M. Pei

This is a guest post by Mari Nakahara, curator of architecture, design and engineering in the Prints and Photographs Division. Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei celebrates his 100th birthday today, April 26. The Library of Congress is fortunate to have original design sketches by I. M. Pei as well as thousands of his manuscript papers. […]

Champions of America: Early Baseball Card

Baseball “has the snap, go, fling, of the American atmosphere—belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitutions [and] laws. —Walt Whitman What better way to welcome April—National Poetry Month and the start of baseball season—than with a quotation about baseball from one of America’s greatest poets? Americans have debated […]

Women’s History Month: The Legacy of Hannah Richards

(The following guest post was written by Beverly W. Brannan, curator of photography in the Prints and Photographs Division.) The Library purchased the collection of William Henry Richards (1856–1941), a law professor at Howard University, in 2013. The collection includes manuscript and visual materials, including a tintype of Hannah Richards, William’s grandmother, who was born […]

Pic of the Week: Saturdays at the Young Readers Center

The Young Readers Center in the Library of Congress hosted a series of events Jan. 28 to celebrate its new Saturday hours of operation, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The center, which opened in October 2009, will offer more young people and their families the opportunity to experience the wonders and resources of the nation’s library. “It […]

Curator’s Picks: Surrogate First Ladies

(The following article is featured in the January/February 2017 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) Manuscript Division specialists Julie Miller, Barbara Bair and Michelle Krowl discuss some non-spousal first ladies. Martha Jefferson Randolph Because Thomas Jefferson was a widower when he became president, Dolley Madison, […]

Pic of the Week: Presidential Inauguration Treasures

The Library is highlighting presidential inauguration history in a temporary display on view through Saturday, Feb. 4 in the rooms known as Mahogany Row, LJ-110 to LJ-113, on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building. Presidential treasures like the handwritten speeches of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln are featured along with collections on […]