16 years of shared history- Happy birthday, Flickr Commons!


Birthday Season is in the Air

We’re celebrating several milestone birthdays this year at Flickr. In February, Flickr is turning the big 2-0, but first, to get the birthday season underway, we’re saying a big ‘happy birthday!’ to the Flickr Commons. Today, January 16th is its 16th birthday!

Flickr Commons is one of the world’s largest collections of unique historical photography. This program partners with over 100 cultural institutions in 24 countries around the world. Members of the Flickr Commons use a special copyright assertion on their images, “no known copyright restrictions”. This particular assertion allows for increased public access to important historical images and places the photos back into the hands of the communities whose history and cultures helped create these collections. 

Today, the Flickr Commons is managed by the Flickr Foundation, a 501c3 whose purpose is to keep Flickr photos visible for future generations. Headed by Flickr Foundation Co-Founder & Executive Director, George Oates, programs like Flickr Commons continue to make the mission of preserving important historical images for the greater good not just a dream but a possibility. 

If you are new to the Flickr Commons, a good place to start is today’s Flickr Explore Takeover. Click on Explore in your header and you’ll find a selection of photos from Flickr Commons’ members all around the world. To get an idea of just how diverse and unique the Flickr Commons’ collection truly is, make sure to check out Explore today! In the meantime, we’d like to introduce you to several members of the Flickr Commons so you can learn more about the work they do and how Flickr Commons plays an integral role in that important work.

Carter Buton Album Loan_00071

Meet the San Diego Air & Space Museum

The San Diego Air & Space Museum (SDASM) has been with the Flickr Commons for over 13 years! According to their mission statement, their goal is to, “Preserve, Inspire, Educate, Celebrate! Preserve significant artifacts of air and space history and technology. Inspire excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Educate the public about the historical and social significance of air and space technology and engage its promise for the future. Celebrate aviation and space flight history and technology.”

Alfonso Harris: Tuskegee Airman

SDASM joined Flickr Commons to assist them in sharing their large digitized image collection with a larger audience. They also learned that Flickr Commons could be used to crowdsource unknown details about many historical photos, which made the partnership a done deal. 

McDonnell Douglas : F/A-18C : Hornet

SDASM uploads thousands of images each month to their Flickr site and allows the public to tag and leave comments on those images. They also use Flickr’s built in Pro stats feature to gauge information about their audience size, and to determine what content their visitors are enjoying and frequently viewing. This stat tool also helps them provide detailed information to potential funders, leading to more grant and funding opportunities. 

Check out SDASM’s Flickr Commons site and also give their official website a look to learn more about events, educational opportunities and museum visit information.

Northbrook Girl Guides - June 1950

Next up, meet the Cloyne and District Historical Society.

The Cloyne and District Historical Society is a not-for-profit, charitable, volunteer organization whose mission is to preserve, record and share the history of the local area, located in Cloyne, Ontario, Canada. They operate the Cloyne Pioneer Museum and hold monthly meetings and events to reflect on their local history.

The Old Tin School in Flinton

A  small-but-mighty organization, their collection of more than 2,100 photographs, documents, and videos has been stored and enjoyed on Flickr since 2013. Their museum is open to the public three months a year, during the tourist season. While the museum is open a limited time each year, the historical society’s Flickr Commons site allows their members to contribute and enjoy the collection year round while also making it accessible to a much wider audience.

Another big draw to joining the Flickr Commons was the visibility and access their site allows the public. Often archives like this end up stored away and not easily viewed by the community, but digitizing their collection opened up new opportunities for their community to enjoy the history of their local area. Their Flickr Commons site has done a great job at growing their audience with an average annual viewership of around 650,000 photo views (6 million+ views since inception).

Annie Irvine

Today the Cloyne and District Historical Society not only use their Flickr Commons site as a central hub for storing and sharing their archives, they have also created a second Flickr site for additional cataloging. Their other Flickr site contains the history of their local cemetery and includes detailed information, along with high resolution photos, for every cemetery grave in their catchment area. This particular catalog allows free and easy access to families tracking and documenting their family history and genealogy. 

Say hello to the National Library of Ireland!

The National Library of Ireland (NLI) was founded in 1877 with a purpose to preserve, collect and provide the general public access to their archives. Covering Irish history from the 1840s to present day, their collection includes over 5 million photographs, books, newspapers, manuscripts, maps, prints and drawings.

The Fisherman aka Tadhg Devane

In 2011, in an effort to help them in their mission of preservation and increasing public access, the NLI joined Flickr Commons. Like other organizations at that time, there was an effort to digitize their collection while also expanding access of their collection to a wider audience so joining Flickr Commons was a great step forward in that mission. 

Busiest boy in Dublin has been identified

With the help of volunteers and staff, NLI adds images to Flickr daily and curates posts using content from their Flickr Commons site. NLI also uses Flickr to crowdsource information by asking the public to be photo detectives. The public is encouraged to share and identify information about the images in order to assist the library in determining locations, date ranges and other pertinent details about the photos. NLI then utilizes the Flickr API to transfer that new information back to the NLI’s catalog which further enhances and preserves the existing collection, for generations to come. 

Operating a hand drill at Vultee-Nashville, woman is working on a "Vengeance" dive bomber, Tennessee  (LOC)

Finally, meet the very first member of Flickr Commons, the Library of Congress!

Based in Washington, DC, the Library of Congress is the national library for the United States and is considered the world’s largest library. When asking staff at the Library of Congress to give a quick summary of the role of the Library of Congress, they say, “We are the Library of Congress, and we love our job – connecting people with amazing collections. As the national library of the United States, we offer millions of books, films, audio recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps, manuscripts, and more. The Library is also the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. By preserving and providing access to rich, diverse, and enduring sources of knowledge, we aim to inform, inspire, and engage intellectual and creative endeavors.”

The Library of Congress has partnered with Flickr Commons since the very beginning. From their Prints & Photographs Division to the Office of Communications, along with the Office of the Chief Information Officer, the Library of Congress and Flickr have worked together since the early 2000s. Back in those days, the Library was looking for new opportunities to bring their extensive collection to a wider audience by incorporating social media trends that were on the rise. That’s where Flickr came in.

Vogue - Didi Abreu, Details thru Didi (LOC)

The Library of Congress uploads to their Flickr Commons site regularly in an effort to continue engagement by offering the public access to their rich and historically significant archives. While visiting the Library of Congress directly is an excellent way to enjoy this collection, when a trip to Washington, D.C isn’t an option, their Flickr site has provided an excellent alternative. The Library of Congress’ Flickr Team explains, “The Library has a vast collection of historical photographs–pictures guaranteed to lift your spirits, spark your curiosity, and otherwise make you look twice. Joining the Flickr Commons allowed us to connect with the Flickr community by uploading high resolution images from the Library’s Prints & Photographs Division that are readily available to use and download.”

Swan boat and the Machinery Building, Trans-Mississippi Exposition, Omaha, Neb. (LOC)

Following the great engagement on their main Flickr Commons site, the Library of Congress has since created a secondary site, the Library of Congress: Life, dedicated to sharing more recent images of events and happenings. 

If you’d like to explore the Library of Congress’ Flickr site, but you aren’t sure of where to start, they have curated several albums of some of their ‘Favorites’. You can click on the links below to get started on your search!

Learn more about the Flickr Foundation.

Flickr Commons is the flagship program supported by the Flickr Foundation. The Flickr Foundation has other programs and partnerships in the works, all building towards its mission to keep Flickr images visible for 100 years. Last year, the Flickr Foundation announced a partnership with Wikimedia to create a bridge between Flickr Commons and Wikimedia Commons by creating a new product, Flickypedia. Information about that partnership and Flickypedia can be found on the Flickr blog.  To learn more about other Flickr Foundation programs visit www.flickr.org

To continue celebrating with Flickr Commons today, head over to the Flickr Foundation blog and read more about Flickr Commons, past and present. If you are inspired by the work being done by the Flickr Foundation, you can visit www.flickr.org to learn about the ways you can support their mission! Happy golden birthday, Flickr Commons!

Stay tuned to the Flickr blog for other birthday announcements coming soon!

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