One of my favorite ways to spark students’ interest in a history lesson is to have them look for interesting historical images. I’ve found that interesting images can prompt good conversations which in turn lead to good questions for my students to research the answers to. One of the ways that I’ve carried out those activities over the years is by having students look through digital archives of images and then sharing their favorite images on a Padlet wall. Along with the image I ask students to share a question that they have about it. Here are three good places to find historical images.
My go-to source for years has been The Commons on Flickr. The Commons contains more than one million historical images that are in the public domain. Dozens of libraries and museums around the world have contributed to The Commons. When you find a picture on The Commons, look for the download arrow icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen. Click that arrow and you can choose from a variety of image sizes to download.
The Museum of New Zealand recently released more than 30,000 images of art and artifacts to download and re-use for free. The images are a mix of public domain images and images labeled with a Creative Commons license. The museum makes it easy to determine how an image is licensed. To determine the licensing of an image simply click on the download button and the next page clearly shows the license for the image.
Use the Getty Search Gateway to search through more than 85,000 images in the Getty Museum’s Open Content Program. The Getty Search Gateway allows you to filter your search according to material type, topic, name, source, and location. Once you find an image, click the image’s title to be taken to its landing page where you can learn more about it, get the required attribution information, and learn more about the history of your chosen image.