The following is a guest post by Helena Zinkham, Chief, Prints & Photographs Division.
It’s a remarkable achievement for any social media program to still be going strong after ten years. But the most important part of the Flickr Commons is the opportunity to talk about pictures without the barriers of time and place. A fantastic community of people who enjoy looking at old pictures has developed through the comments they exchange online. That communication can be as simple as flagging favorite photos, and a display of top favorites appears in a Flickr album and is also being featured on the Library of Congress home page this month.
Thank you for a rich and growing experience! You inspire the Prints & Photographs Division staff to keep diving deeper into our collections to share the pictures we love. Your subject expertise and impressive research skills also provide much-needed help to identify the many fascinating images that arrived at the Library with only one or two words of description.
New followers and history detectives are always welcome to take part in the Library’s Flickr photostream.
The albums selected above illustrate how successful “crowdsourcing” has been in adding descriptive information. You’ve sent us views of how places appear today, for “then and now” comparisons of changing landscapes and cityscapes. You’ve provided dates for jazz performances. You’ve even identified photos that had no captions at all! More than 12,000 pictures now have improved, corrected, and expanded descriptions. Please join us as 50 new photos flow out each week needing detectives to enrich the descriptions.
In 2008 George Oates at Flickr created the Flickr Commons with the Library of Congress and an ambitious vision: “Help us catalog the world’s public photo archives.” Now you have a chance to see images from 115 institutions all over the world—check them out! For example, in the National Library of Ireland’s photostream, delightful conversations develop as a group pieces together the story for each photograph.
When John Margolies gave a talk at the Library of Congress in 2011 about his project to photograph roadside attractions and commercial vistas all across America, he remarked, “If anybody knows if these places still exist, tell me later ’cause that’s very often the only way that I find out whether things are there anymore.” […]
Nine years ago this month, the Library of Congress, after much planning and discussion, loaded photos for the first time to Flickr and began an extended, gratifying exchange with picture lovers all over the world. That first upload put the Library’s pictures in front of a community whose members enjoy looking closely, appreciating fully, and […]
Last week we celebrated eight years of sharing Library of Congress pictures on the photosharing site, Flickr, by posting there one spectacular bridge photo each day for eight days. Why bridges? Because, when we began sharing photos in Flickr back in 2008, the Library of Congress also joined with Flickr to launch The Commons, which […]
We asked “What’s this Gadget?” about a set of twenty-five uncaptioned photographs from the Harris & Ewing Collection, and you definitely put on your thinking caps – or maybe your psychographs – which we learned the smiling woman below is “wearing”! This previously uncaptioned photograph shows a psychograph, a phrenology machine meant to measure the […]
My initial impression of the jovial sailors pictured below was that a letter “d” must have been left out of the annotated title in the photograph’s upper left corner. This World War I era photo from the Bain News Service is one of more than 15,000 photographs (a hefty subset of the 40,000 available from […]
If you enjoy a good mystery, get ready to start sleuthing! This Friday, we will be adding a new group of mystery photos to the Library of Congress Flickr account. A portion of the glass negatives in the Harris & Ewing Collection came to us with no captions, providing many challenging photo mysteries to solve. […]
Although I grew up within walking distance of the ocean, yacht races such as the historic America’s Cup–the match races between sailing yachts that have been held since 1851–have been largely off my radar. So I relished the opportunity to sail through nearly twenty years of America’s Cup history through a new Flickr album, “America’s […]
Artists working for the Federal Art Project (FAP), a part of the Work Projects Administration (WPA), created thousands of posters between 1936 and 1943. The posters took on all manner of topics: public health and safety, cultural events and exhibitions, education, tourism, and wartime warnings, to name a few. Only a small percentage of those […]
The following is a guest post by Katherine Blood, Curator of Fine Prints, and Mari Nakahara, Curator of Architecture, Design, and Engineering, Prints & Photographs Division: As Washington’s beloved cherry trees are in full bloom, we are inspired to share an assortment of seasonal-themed images from the Library’s extensive holdings of Japanese woodblock prints. In Japanese […]