January 17, 2023

Finding Resources: Free to Use & Reuse Primary Source Sets

Last Updated on September 11, 2022

Free to Use Reuse Primary Source Sets

These primary source sets provide just a small sample of the Library’s digital collections that are free to use and reuse. The digital collections comprise millions of items including books, newspapers, manuscripts, prints and photos, maps, musical scores, films, sound recordings and more.

Click the topic link to access each Free to Use & Reuse set from the Library. Those sets that have related sets of images found on the Library’s Flickr Photostream or sets of Library resources and/or learning resources curated/created by PSN are included in bulleted lists below the associated topic links.

19th-Century Portrait Photos
portrait photos from the C.M. Bell Studio Collection

Abraham Lincoln
highlights from the Library’s collections on Abraham Lincoln

Advertising Food
all kinds of signs advertise food, including buildings

African-American Women Changemakers
educators, activists, artists, and more

images of balloons, gliders, blimps, dirigibles, airplanes, fighter jets, helicopters, and space shuttles

American Revolution and Founding Washington
maps representing cities, battles, and symbols involved in the founding of the United States

Architecture & Design
gorgeous gardens, breakthrough buildings and notable designs

Art of the Book
examples of illustration, binding, and typography from a variety of locations and historical moments

highlights athletes in more than forty different professional and recreational activities

Autumn and Halloween
activities and scenery from late September through early November

Baseball cards
cards dating from 1887 to 1914

photos and illustrations of bicycles and cycling through history

images of a variety of our feathered friends across time periods, communities, and places

featuring the Golden Gate Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs and many more

images of classic cars, race cars, steam-powered cars & more

photos, posters & illustrations

Cherry Blossoms
images from Japan and Washington, D.C.

Civil War Drawings
selections from Adolph Metzner Civil War Drawings

Classic Children’s Books
links to read these books online

Diners, Drive-ins and Restaurants
highlights architecture, signage, and people at diners, drive-ins and restaurants—one in each state and the District of Columbia

Disability awareness
people with disabilities throughout U.S. history—at work, at play, at school, and advocating for change

Discovery & Exploration
maps that shaped our view of the world throughout history

pictures of canines and their humans

serious and humorous family portraits and activities concentrates on the 1800s to the 1940s

Farm Life
aspects of life on American farms: landscapes, work, play, and everyday moments from dinner to doctor visits

selection of films from the National Film Registry

Fish & Fishing
traditional, scientific, nostalgic, commercial, and humorous views from the 16th to 21st centuries

Flickr Favorites
favorite images selected from the Library’s Flickr photostream

selected images

Games for Fun & Relaxation

family registers, family trees and photos, maps that document land ownership and more

offers a challenge to see how many of the hats you can match with an occupation, time period, or geographic location

Historic Sites
fascinating perspectives on how sites were designed

Historical Travel Pictures
color images from Europe, the Middle East, Canada, Asia and the South Pacific as they appeared in the 1890s and early 1900s

images from the Library’s collections

scenes from the open range, farms, and cities as well as sports, the military, and recreation

Hotels, Motels & Inns
from Palm Springs to Paris, New York to Norway and all around the world

Ice cream
photos of ice cream parlors, ice cream advertisements and Thomas Jefferson’s ice cream recipe

Irish Americans
includes a variety of primary source types

Independence Day
reflect on how the holiday has traditionally been celebrated and also to discuss the complex history and symbols surrounding American Independence

Jazz Photos
selections from the William P. Gottlieb Collection

libraries in all shapes and sizes serving their local communities

American lighthouses primarily from the 1800s and 1900s

Maps of Cities
from  individual buildings to panoramic views of large urban areas

Motion Picture Theaters
from classic theaters to beautiful historical film posters to snapshots of American moviegoing life

Natural Disasters
images of avalanches, blizzards, droughts and dust storms, earthquakes, floods, forest fires, heat waves, hurricanes, landslides, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, and waterspouts from the 16th to the 21st centuries

Older People
images from the 19th and 20th centuries shows older women and men in formal portraits; scenes at work and at home; as grandparents and veterans; with happiness, sorrow, and determination

Not an Ostrich
photos selected for the Annenberg Space for Photography exhibition “Not an Ostrich: And Other Images from America’s Library

Poster Parade
1890s through the 1960s featuring travel, commercial products, war propaganda, entertainment, and more

Presidential Inaugurations | Presidential Papers | Presidential Portraits 
from the United States

Reading: Books, Maps & More
images that show you can read just about anywhere

Roadside America
selections from the John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive

pictures about making, selling, wearing, shining, repairing, and also needing shoes

images from the oldest acknowledged skyscraper to the crowded skylines of the 21st century

swimming pools, beaches & more summer fun

equipment, courts, athletes and recreational players

Thanksgiving in History
select primary sources

Travel Posters

American veterans throughout history

brides and grooms from many different customs and countries in the 18th to the 20th centuries

Women’s History Month
selected images

Work in America
a wide range of people engaged in jobs from 1977 to 1998

Work Projects Administration (WPA) Posters
selections from the WPA Posters Collection

World War I Posters

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