Found Ephemera – Flickr Commons

Are you looking for photos of a place or a period in time? Take a look at The Commons on Flickr. Archives, museums and libraries from all over the world are making historical photos and other interesting graphics available for everyone to see. Even better, most of these images are public domain so you can use them in your family history projects.

What will you find at The Commons? Obviously there are fabulous collections of historical photographs. That’s just the beginning. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has a number of collections, including their Historical Map collection with 149 maps. These will help me track my Mississippi ancestors as they moved into and around the state, but it will also give me graphics I can use to help tell their stories. Who knows, I may even find a photo or two . . .

Texas looks interesting too with lots of maps and even scans of the original Texas Declaration of Independence. I’ll need to spend some time looking through the Gulf Coast photographs to see if any relatives show up there.

The Florida Archive has provided lots of amazing images including the Spanish Land Grants issued during Florida’s Second Spanish Period. Our family didn’t show up down here until many years later, but it’s still quite fascinating.

Both the British Library and the Internet Archive are posting images from old books. The British Library has more than a million images using tags and albums to organize them. Do you need period clothing from a certain era? You’ll probably find it here. There are also tons of great graphical images that could help add “color” to a family history project. Everything I’ve seen so far has “no known copyright restrictions”. The Internet Archive has posted more than 5 million images. Each has information about their source and often link back to the scanned copy of the book containing that image, but they have not yet begun organizing the images. There are no albums so you’ll either have to browse or use search to help you find specific types of images.

Maps, historic photos and graphic images can be quite useful in family history projects. For example, I’ve found several photographs of the S.S. Florida – a small cruise liner that took travelers from Miami to Havana in the 1930s and 40s. As a teenager, my father was a deck hand during the summer. It was the beginning of his career as a merchant seaman. You can bet I’ll put any and all photos I can find of that ship to good use.

the S. S. Florida
P & O Steamship Line. S. S. Florida. Gift of Betty Demonich to the Florida Keys Public Library.

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