Of what value is a photograph if it's stored away, tucked deep in filing cabinets, and inaccessible to potential viewers? Not, much, says Flickr.
Greater accessibility was the driving factor behind The Commons on Flickr project, which last week celebrated its fifth anniversary. Launched on January 16, 2008 in partnership with The Library of Congress, Flickr sought to increase access to publicly held photography collections, providing a way for people to interact with the images, and potentially contributing information to the catalogs.
Dozens of institutions around the world have offered up their public collections so far, and thousands of Flickr community members have contributed to the conversation, adding nearly 2 million tags and more than 165,000 comments to the photos, offering detailed anecdotes and supplemental information to the collections.
Here are just a few of the most popular photos to appear in The Commons on Flickr, including images from the San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, The U.S. National Archives, and The National Archives U.K.
McDonnell Douglas : F/A-18C : Hornet
Catalog #: 00042036
Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas
Official Nickname: Hornet
Repository: San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive
Tommy enjoys possession of newly captured Hun trench
British soldiers at the old German Front Line during World War I. In front of a mound and standing in a network of trenches are groups of soldiers, mostly smiling and laughing. They are all wearing large ponchos, and the ground is very muddy. One soldier is pointing to a sign which says the "old hun line."
"Tommy Atkins" was a fictional hero figure representing the average British soldier. The slang British term used here for German, "Hun," gained popular usage after Kaiser Wilhelm II urged his troops to "behave like Huns" to win the war.
[Original reads: "OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH OF THE SOMME ADVANCE - Tommy enjoys possession of newly captured Hun trench."]
Photo by: National Library of Scotland
/ Caption by:James Martin
A blind person is shown "seeing" the human body via the touching of a skeleton at Sunderland Museum.
From 1913, John Alfred Charlton Deas, a former curator at Sunderland Museum, organized several handling sessions for the blind, first offering an invitation to the children from the Sunderland Council Blind School to handle a few of the collections at Sunderland Museum.
From the Smithsonian: "This city letter carrier posed for a humorous photograph with a young boy in his mailbag. After parcel post service was introduced in 1913, at least two children were sent by the service. With stamps attached to their clothing, the children rode with railway and city carriers to their destination. The Postmaster General quickly issued a regulation forbidding the sending of children in the mail after hearing of those examples."