Tutorial: Finding Copyright Free Vintage Photos

January 24, 2017
One of my favorite sources for vintage photographic images is the 


You can search the collections by subject or photographer. They list as much of the history of the photograph as they know. The most important part for artists is that many of the photos are listed as “no known copyright restrictions.” Those are the ones you can download and use as you wish. Every day I’m amazed and grateful at how easy the internet has made it to access so many very cool things.
Did you know the Library of Congress also has a Flickr page? Every few days they post several pictures from their historic archives, all of them copyright free. That makes it easier to search for the ones you can use. I get so disappointed when I fall in love with the perfect image then realize I can’t use it. The thing I like best about the LOC’s Flickr page is the comments from viewers. They often add quite a bit of information to the provenance already listed. I download the largest size they have available. 


Next week I’ll post tutorials on what to look for when you want to use a photo for a citra-solv photo transfer how to use Photoshop Elements to make it even better. For now, here is a really great example of what can be found on the Library of Congress’ Flickr Site. Pop over there to read the comments too!

Bain News Service,, publisher.
Louis & Lola ?– TITANIC survivors
[1912 April]
1 negative : glass ; 5 x 7 in. or smaller.

Notes:Title from negative.
Photo taken before the ‘orphans’ of the Titanic were fully identified. The boys are French brothers Michel (age 4) and Edmond Navratil (age 2). To board the ship, their father assumed the name Louis Hoffman and used their nicknames, Lolo and Mamon. Their father died in the disaster of the RMS TITANIC, which struck an iceberg in April 1912 and sank, killing more than 1,500 people. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2008)
Forms part of: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress).
Format: Glass negatives.
Rights Info: No known restrictions on publication.
Repository: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
General information about the Bain Collection is available at hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.ggbain
Persistent URL: hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.11222
Call Number: LC-B2- 2486-15 

Where you find your photos?
What do you do with them?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  • Reply
    June 29, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Thank you! This was great news to find that the LOC was on-line and in Fklr. Always looking for photos I can use and this is going to keep me going indefinitely.

  • Reply
    Cassie Shella
    June 25, 2010 at 11:51 am

    This is such great information! Thanks so much for sharing it. I'm going to pass this info on to my sister who is a giant history buff. I use pictures of my girls printed on muslim in collages I make for family and friends. But I'm very curious about other photo transer techniques. Looking forward to your tutorial.

  • Reply
    Diana Trout {Nan.DT@verizon.net}
    June 24, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    This is great info! I know that some of my readers like to use photos so I'll link to your post. Thanks, Lyric

  • Reply
    June 24, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Thank you for posting about this digital archive. I also have the NY Public Library in my list of favorites. I found this website this year: http://www.percyandbloom.com/ which has free vintage and antique images. So far I have mostly looked at all of these resources. I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do with them!

  • Reply
    judy coates perez
    June 24, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    The Library of Congress is a great archive of digital imagery, the New York Public Library is another great resource.

Notice: Undefined variable: consent in /home/lyricki/public_html/wp-content/themes/hawthorn/comments.php on line 49

Leave a Reply to Cassie Shella Cancel Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.