Library of Congress Makes Finding Free to Use Material Easier Than Ever

Where can you go if you want to peruse vintage travel posters, Civil War photography, or explore America via WPA imagery? The Library of Congress, of course. As the United States' oldest federal institution, the Library Congress has become the de facto repository of all things associated with American history. Thanks to the institution's large digital collection, it's possible to gain access to millions of items right from your computer.

The Library of Congress doesn't only place materials online, but also organizes them in a fashion that makes it easy and enjoyable to conduct research. As the base for the U.S. Copyright Office, the Library of Congress also helps demystify what users can and cannot do with the materials found online. Their Free to Use and Reuse collections are filled with interesting items that the Library of Congress is “either in the public domain, has no known copyright, or has been cleared by the copyright owner for public use.”

Thematic sets are first placed on the LoC's homepage and then moved to the Free to Use landing page. Seasonal collections like Thanksgiving in History are joined by topics as diverse as Baseballs Cards and Dogs. Poster Parade is a recent collection of posters from the 1890s through the 1960s that were used for travel, entertainment, propaganda, commercial products, and more.

For history buffs, collections related to Abraham Lincoln and Civil War Drawings may be of interest, while those in love with Americana won't want to miss the John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive. With new collections always being added, there's never a shortage of new imagery to explore.

The Library of Congress has a vast digital collection, including many materials that are available for free use and reuse.

19th Century Portraits

Bertha Barber, 19th century

h/t: [Open Culture]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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