When our 21st Century learners look for images, the first inclination is to go to Google Images. Unfortunately that is where most people stop once they have identified a useful image at Google. Much of the time students do not proceed to the original source or find more than a web address (often the wrong one) for attribution. We can show them better ways — dozens of better ways, actually.
Below are links to all sorts of sites that feature images that students and teachers can use as a part of instructional activities or project presentations. Some of these sites require specific types of attribution (giving credit to the site, artist, photographer, etc.), and usually the instructions are clear, so users should pay attention to the attribution requirements. Many of the image collections below link to or at least list other image sites. Note that on government sites (.gov) most of the images are in the public domain. Teachers will also want to read Learning About Creative Commons (and perhaps share with students) — a PDF that describes the alternative to traditional copyright procedures.
Learn More About Using Digital Images
Find more information about the millions of images at the United States Library of Congress (LOC). The EdTech Teacher website features an excellent post, Finding Public Domain Images for Multimedia Projects. Fair Use allows copyrighted material to be used for teaching, research, or scholarship. Read more about fair use at the Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office or read/download A Quick Guide to Fair Use and School Projects on the Power to Learn/Cablevision site. Some of the sites below include stock photos.
Specific Image or Image Search Sites
US Government Images
- USA.gov Photos and Images – Info to help users get started using images from government web sites.
- United States Library of Congress (LOC)
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA Image Library at Flickr
- NASA Images
- United States Presidential Photos (LOC)
- Images at the Smithsonian Institution – SI Research Info System (SIRIS) image files are available for non-commercial, personal use.
Museums or University Sites
(includes some university libraries)
- Africa Focus Image Collection – University of Wisconsin
- World Images from the California State University image site
- California Ethnic and Multicultural Image Archives – collections at the University of California Santa Barbara
- Yale University Digital Content – includes documents as well as sound files
- Art Museums and the Public Domain – art museums that make their content available
- Calisphere: Digital Images and Primary Sources from the University of California
- Civil Rights Digital Library – University of Georgia – This site offers links or connections to a huge number of civil rights events, activists (by last name), and places. It may require some digging to find what you are looking for, since the site connects a user to the institution and collection where the media resides. Some pics are available for free and others are not. Fair use applies and attribution required.
- Duke University Ad*Access Collection – using ad for educational purposes is fine as long as the source is attributed.
Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection – University of Texas
Other Image Collections or Search Sites
- Copyright Free Images for Learning
- Getty Images – Search for open content images
- Public Domain Pictures
- PixaBay – Search site for public domain images
- MorgueFile – Contains photographs freely contributed by many artists to be used in creative projects by visitors to the site. To acknowledge the artist’s accomplishments, we ask that you credit the photographer when possible.
- Creative Commons site Offering links to image sites with images licensed under Creative Commons.
- Pics 4 Learning – Image library for children
- GeekPhilosopher.com – Stock photos
- Discovery School Clip Art Collection
- Photo Pin – Find an image and the site provides an embed code to use on blogs
- Compfight – An image search that shows both commercial and Creative Commons images, but it sets off the non-Creative Commons images in a separate section to make the distinction clear.
- Europeana – Images from Europe. Most under Creative Commons, but all specifically labeled.
- Wikimedia Commons Images – This site also makes an app available.
- Media History Digital Image Project – A non-profit initiative that features digitized collections of classic media periodicals that belong in the public domain for full public access.
- The Open Photo Project – Photographers sharing their photos for Creative Commons use.
If you check out many of these sites and still don’t find what you are searching for, you can also visit the Clearinghouse of Image Databases posted at the Council on Libraries and Information Resources, though going through this resources takes some time and legwork.