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Free images from the Library of Congress

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The Library of Congress serve as the national library for the United States, based in Washington, DC. With more than 142 million items preserved on some 650 miles of bookshelves, we're also the world's largest library.

In addition to books, the Library of Congress have photos, maps, databases, movies, sound recordings, sheet music, manuscripts, and information in many other formats. Millions of items are online, and the full array of collections is available in DC, right across from the U.S. Capitol building.

What are photographs doing in a library?

The Library of Congress have been acquiring photos since the mid-1800s when photography was the hot new technology. Because images represent life and the world so vividly, people have long enjoyed exploring our visual collections. Looking at pictures opens new windows to understanding both the past and the present. Favorite photos are often incorporated in books, TV shows, homework assignments, scholarly articles, family histories, and much more.

The Prints & Photographs Division takes care of 14 million of the Library's pictures and features more than 1 million through online catalogs. Offering historical photo collections through Flickr is a welcome opportunity to share some of our most popular images more widely.

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This Work, Library of Congress, by Library of Congress, is free of known copyright restrictions. There are alternative licensing options available.