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British Library uploads over a million historical images onto Flickr to research and remix

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British Library
British Library

The British Library announced yesterday that it has uploaded more than one million public domain photos from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries to Flickr. The move comes as part of an ambitious project that will crowdsource inventive ways to navigate the massive store of photos, foster research, and encourage users to remix and repurpose the images.

Finding the Dickensian Aspect on Flickr

According to the library, the dataset, digitized with help from Microsoft, boasts 300 years of "maps, geological diagrams, beautiful illustrations, comical satire, illuminated and decorative letters, colourful illustrations, landscapes, [and] wall-paintings" waiting to be explored. While each image is tagged with information about its provenance, there is scant interpretation about what the images mean. It's hope that researchers will step in to fill in the blanks as far as what many of these images portray.

Earlier this year, the British Library archived thousands of medieval manuscripts and made them freely available to the public. It's also in the process of archiving a billion of the UK's web pages by the end of the year.