The Primary Source Librarian

Dedicated to Excellence in Teaching with Primary Sources

Now Online! Life Photo Archive

Just in case my readers have not seen the announcement about the new Life Photo Archive, I want to invite you to have a look. More than 10 million historic images have been made available through Google’s hosted image service. They include not only some of the most famous icons of the 20th century, but also millions of photos never before seen by the public.

Your students can search the archive by decades ranging from the 1860s to the 1970s. One special feature allows users to search keywords translated into some sixteen different languages. Isn’t that a great opportunity to work with your ESL students and teaching colleagues?

I suggest that you work immediately with your district-level “guardians of child safety” to make this site available to your students. My concern is that those districts that have blocked the general Google Image Search will mix this fabulous archive into the same pot because it uses the Google search engine. Imagine missing out on some of these collections:

  • Works of photojournalists Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke-White, Gordon Parks, W. Eugene Smith, Gjon Mili, and Nina Leen
  • Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination
  • Mansell Collection from London
  • Dahlstrom glass plates of New York and environs from the 1880s
  • Hugo Jaeger images from Nazi-era Germany, 1937–1944
  • DMI red-carpet celebrity shots
  • Pix Inc. personalities

When your students start using this archive, just remember that Time Inc. does own the copyright of all the images. Be sure to stay within strict fair use guidelines.

Finally, for your personal pleasure, do plan to spend some time exploring on your own. I invite you to dive in and enjoy the search!

Coney Island Jump

Young Ethel Merritt jumping in the air at Coney Island.

Photographer: Wallace G. Levison

July 11, 1886

Copyright: Time Inc.


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