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Arkansas State University

Image Searching: Image Databases

A short intro to image databases and websites.

AMERICAN ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY (AAS) HISTORICAL PERIODICALS

The library has four AAS databases ranging from 1691 to 1865:
 

American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals: 1691-1820

American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals: 1821-1837

American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals: 1821-1837

American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals: 1853-1865

 

These databases are good for finding older illustrations that appeared in American newspapers and magazines. The first three databases have an option to limit your searches to illustrations, while the 1853-1865 does not have any options (it will still find illustrations, but they will be mixed in with other results).  The illustrations range from detailed prints to tables and technical drawings.  Most illustrations will have the option to download a high resolution version.
 

Example of what you can find:

Extraordinary Tumours on the Head of a Labourer

An Explanation of the Plate; being an Account given by Dr. James Parsons, of some extraordinary Tumours upon the Head of a labouring Man in St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London; read to the Royal-Society, Nov. 10. 1757. (1758). Grand Magazines of Magazines, 1(3), 136. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

 
Usage rights:

If you click on any image record, the database says that the image is property of the publisher.  This is a generic blurb that EBSCO uses for all images in their databases.  None of the images in the AAS databases are still under copyright -- however, you can NOT pass the works off as your own.  Make sure to give credit to the original artist and/or publication.

AMERICAN MEMORY

American Memory is an online, free database from the Library of Congress aimed at documenting the American experience.  It contains over 100 collections containing more than 9 million items including thousands of photos, illustrations and videos.  Many of the photographs were taken through federal projects such as the Works Progress Administration during the 1930s and the Farm Security Administration during the 1940s.  For more information on this database, check out our American Memory Guide.
 

Example of what you can find:

Negro day laborers employed in picking cotton at Lake Dick Project, Arkansas

Negro day laborers employed in picking cotton at Lake Dick Project, Arkansas.
Lee, Russell, 1903-1986, photographer. Created 1938 Sept.


Usage rights:

Fortunately, many of the images and recordings are public domain.  However, that said: It is up to the user to make sure that they are following privacy and copyright rules. 

The items come from a variety of sources and the copyright and usage rights do vary.  To find the copyright / usage rights for each image or recording, click on the "Rights and Reproductions" link in the full record.  In cases where permission needs to be granted to use the item, the link should contain the contact information. 

AP IMAGES

The AP Images database contains over 4.6 million photographs with historical photos going as far back as 1826.  In addition, the database contains tens of thousands of graphics, over 4,500 hours of audio, and over 13 years of news and headlines from the Associated Press -- making the AP Images database an excellent source of primary material.  Note: some war and historical images may contain graphic content.  For more information on this database, check out our AP Images Guide.

 
Example of what you can find:

Hurricane Katrina Mississippi

Hurricane Katrina Aftermath, Mississippi 9/24/05

 

Usage rights:

Everything in the AP Images database is copyrighted by the Associated Press and meant for informational and educational purposes only.  However, some older images may not be copyrighted.  If you wish to use any of the images or graphics for personal or commercial purposes, you must follow the terms of use for that specific image.

CREDO REFERENCE

The Credo Reference Image Search allows you to search for only images within the database.  The image is usually accompanied by a dictionary entry and some entries include multiple links to different images of what you are searching for.  The images range from actual pictures to illustrations to works of art and are pulled out from of over 490 reference sources such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, biographies and more within Credo.  For more information on this database, check out our Credo Reference Guide.
 

Examples of what you can find:
 

Dog Diagram
Dog from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary

 

Dog and Hare
Dog and Hare, 18th Century, The Bridgeman Art Library Archive

 
 Usage rights:

Because Credo Reference pulls from so many different sources, there is not a clear guideline for usage rights.  Older images *may* be public domain, but it is up to the user to verify this. 

OXFORD ART ONLINE

Oxford Art Online is made up of the Grove Art database and several art reference sources from Oxford University Press.  The image search allows you to search over 6,000 two-dimensional and three-dimensional artistic works, photographs and architectural drawings.  The images are international in scope and cover prehistoric times to present. 

Examples of what you can find:

Rock painting of a pastoral scene from Tassili N’Ajjer, Algeria,

Rock painting of a pastoral scene from Tassili N’Ajjer, Algeria, ?c. 7000–c. 3000 BC

 

Art Nouveau vases by Emile Gallé

Art Nouveau vases by Emile Gallé

 

Usage:

Because Oxford Art Online pulls from so many different sources, there is not a clear guideline for usage rights.  Older images *may* be public domain, but it is up to the user to verify this.