275,000 images, from Civil War photographs, illuminated manuscripts, and Japanese prints, to New York City views, early American maps, and much more are now available free online.
A treasury of images from the collections of The New York Public Library is accessible free of charge over the Internet starting today via NYPL Digital Gallery, according to Dr. Paul LeClerc, President of the Library.
“By opening the doors of our acclaimed collections to users over the Internet, we are plunging fully into an exciting new era of Library service,” said Dr. LeClerc. “These visual materials, many of which are unique to the Library, will be available to anyone in the world with an Internet connection at any time, free of charge. We see new possibilities for exciting intellectual discoveries and accomplishments by scholars, researchers, and artists from remote locations who will be able to easily use our materials.”
The initial 275,000 items in the NYPL Digital Gallery were selected by curators from all divisions of The New York Public Library’s four research libraries. Included in the searchable database are prints, illuminated manuscripts, photographs, maps, postcards, cigarette cards, menus, posters, and many other visual materials.
“Whether it’s a historian studying the Revolutionary War, a scenic designer researching old New York neighborhoods, or a fashion designer looking for inspiration in vintage clothing, the Digital Gallery will provide unparalleled resources and access,” said David S. Ferriero, the Library’s Andrew W. Mellon Director and Chief Executive of The Research Libraries. “Within the next several months, we expect that the quantity of materials available will double to 500,000 items.”
“Digital Gallery provides researchers with several avenues into this huge amount of content — browsing by broad topics, collections, subject words, or names, and searching by keywords or identification number,” said Barbara Taranto, Director of NYPL’s Digital Library Program.
Each item in the Gallery has been individually described with extensive metadata to accommodate precise searches. Once materials have been located, they can be viewed in three sizes and may be downloaded free of charge for personal use.
Representative collections in NYPL Digital Gallery include:
Revolutionary War Scenes — several thousand images from the Thomas Addis Emmet Collection of Illustrations Relating to the American Revolution
Civil War Photos — 183 rarely seen photos documenting battlefield medical treatment
New York City History — tens of thousands of archival photographs of buildings and streetscapes
Illuminated Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts — more than 2,000 manuscript pages and associated illuminations
16th-century Maps of North America — including the earliest published maps of the continent
Sheet Music Covers — from the late 19th and early 20th centuries
Civil and Mechanical Engineering — images from the 16th to the 20th century
Manhattan Pre-War Apartments — 1,260 floor plans and elevations
Yiddish Theatre Placards — from New York and Buenos Aires, 1900s to 1930s
Animal Illustrations — 5,000 pages from illustrated classics published in the 17th to 20th century
Japanese Prints — 17th- and 18th-century woodcuts
Fashion Illustrations — from the 19th to early 20th century
Menus — several thousand restaurant menus from 1851 to the 1920s
Russian Civil War Posters — 213 posters, placards, and broadsides from 1918 to 1922
Theatre Photographs — 1,500 photos from 1900 to 1957 including pictures of Fred Astaire and the Marx Brothers.
This is pretty spectacular stuff, although you may want to wait to visit: there is so much demand right now that everything is pretty clogged up.