The following is a guest post by Helena Zinkham, Chief, Prints & Photographs Division.
Since readers of this blog are fans of pictures, I’d like to introduce you today to the Flickr Commons, where you can enjoy intriguing images gathered together from many places. Since the Flickr Commons launched on January 16, 2008, more than 250,000 photographs with no known copyright restrictions have been contributed by 56 libraries, archives, and museums worldwide, with new images added each week. The pictures are guaranteed to lift your spirits, spark your curiosity, and otherwise make you look twice.
To celebrate this 5th birthday, I asked the Flickr Commons contributors to share their most viewed or interesting photos. The new galleries of favorites represent well the wide variety of subject matter and time periods as well as the inviting beauty of photography. (Click each image below to enjoy the galleries.)
More pictures to delight you also appear in sets and blogs noted in the Flickr Commons discussion group. The Library of Congress special set is called Celebrating Flickr Commons. These images of fireworks, birthday parties, and parades express our excitement at being part of the Commons.
Among the photos that launched the Flickr Commons, this “Rosie the Riveter” image remains one of the most popular, with more than 200,000 views and almost 900 favorites.
I admit to some bias about the Flickr Commons, because a frequent highlight of my week is choosing which photographs to add to the Library of Congress photostream and then learning new things from the many comments that arrive. People from all walks of life regularly participate and breathe new life into historical photographs by adding identifying and contextual information, humor, family stories, and encouraging appreciation. Many weeks, I also lose all track of time while browsing the wonderful additions from our fellow contributors to the Flickr Commons.
When Flickr launched the Commons with two collections from the Library of Congress, they opened a fantastic opportunity for all of us to enjoy historical images. With two great goals: “to firstly show you hidden treasures in the world’s public photography archives, and secondly to show how your input and knowledge can help make these collections even richer.”
Flickr members immediately took that invitation to heart. Over the last five years, they have created a wonderful community of conversation about pictures, but also left room for individual activity through viewing, favoriting, and creative remixing.
With a big shout out to the current and future Flickr contributors who have so enriched the world of historical photographs. Happy Birthday!
- See more 5th birthday celebration sets and blog posts; the Flickr Commons discussion group is “bringing together the members of The Commons with Flickr users and staff in a space to celebrate, play with, and carry forward The Commons.”
- Search the Flickr Commons.
- View all the institutions participating in the Flickr Commons.
- Read how the Flickr Commons makes a difference. A Happy Anniversary: Four Years of Sharing on Flickr has reflections from the Library of Congress about the great comments, pairings of old and new pictures, and other Flickr experiences.
- Visit the Flickr Project page for the Library of Congress.
Update: We’ve added a 5th gallery.