Free from the New York Public Library: Digital Archive of 180,000 Files

Posted on January 10, 2016 at 3:28 pm

Copyright 2016 NYPL
Copyright 2016 NYPL

The New York Public Library is one of the world’s great repositories and now 180,000 items in its collections are available to anyone with online access.

That means everyone has the freedom to enjoy and reuse these materials in almost limitless ways. The Library now makes it possible to download such items in the highest resolution available directly from the Digital Collections website.

No permission required. No restrictions on use.

To provide further inspiration for reuse, the NYPL Labs team has also released several demonstration projects delving into specific collections, as well as a visual browsing tool allowing users to explore the public domain collections at scale. These projects, which suggest just a few of the myriad investigations made possible by fully opening these collections, include:

  • a “mansion builder” game, exploring floor plans of grand turn-of-the-century New York apartments;
    a then-and-now comparison of New York’s Fifth Avenue, juxtaposing 1911 wide angle photographs with Google Street View; and
  • a “trip planner” using locations extracted from mid-20th century motor guides that listed hotels, restaurants, bars, and other destinations where Black travelers would be welcome.
  • The public domain release spans the breadth and depth of NYPL’s holdings, from the Library’s rich New York City collection, historic maps, botanical illustrations, unique manuscripts, photographs, ancient religious texts, and more. Materials include:

    Berenice Abbott’s iconic documentation of 1930s New York for the Federal Art Project
    Farm Security Administration photographs by Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, and others
    Manuscripts of American literary masters like Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne
    Papers and correspondence of founding American political figures like Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison
    Sheet music for popular American songs at the turn of the 20th century
    WPA-era lithographs, etchings, and pastels by African American artists
    Lewis Hine’s photographs of Ellis Island immigrants and social conditions in early 20th century America
    Anna Atkins’ cyanotypes of British algae, the first recorded photographic work by a woman (1843)
    Handscrolls of the Tale of Genji, created in 1554
    Medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts from Western Europe
    Over 20,000 maps and atlases documenting New York City, North America, and the world
    More than 40,000 stereoscopic views documenting all regions of the United States

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