The British Library’s Flickr Commons project archive contains over one million images from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
The library explained that:
“These images were taken from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th century books digitised by Microsoft who then generously gifted the scanned images to us, allowing us to release them back into the Public Domain”
the library says they are looking for new, inventive ways to navigate, find and display these ‘unseen illustrations’. The images were plucked from the pages as part of the ‘Mechanical Curator’, a creation of the British Library Labs project. Each image is individually addressable, online, and Flickr provides an API to access it and the image’s associated description.
The library plans to launch a crowdsourcing application at the beginning of next year, to help describe what the images portray. Our intention is to use this data to train automated classifiers that will run against the whole of the content. The data from this will be as openly licensed as is sensible (given the nature of crowdsourcing) and the code, as always, will be under an open licence.