Lost New England would not be possible if not for the efforts of libraries and other organizations that work to digitize their photographic collections and make them available online for public use. The images on Lost New England are just a tiny fraction of the amazing historical photos that are online, and the links below represent some of the collections that I have used to obtain photos:
Boston Public Library: The Boston Public Library has nearly 100,000 images on their Flickr account, and the number keeps growing almost daily. Most of the images are of Boston, but it is a great resource for anything Bostonian, including the Leslie Jones Collection, which documents just about every aspect of Boston life in the first half of the 20th century, including a few thousand rare baseball photos. Most of the photos on their Flickr account are released under a Creative Commons license, so there are some restrictions on use, but most allow noncommercial use with proper attribution.
City of Boston Archives: From an artistic point of view, these photos aren’t spectacular – most of the photos are either of buildings or public works projects. However, from a historical perspective, the nearly 10,000 photos (and counting) on their Flickr account provide a great deal of information on neighborhoods, streets, and public transit networks from throughout the 20th century. In some of the albums, just about every building in a particular neighborhood is photographed, making it sort of like an early 20th century version of Google Street View. Most of these photos appear to be in the public domain, although some have Creative Commons licenses requiring attribution.
Connecticut State Library: Their Flickr page consists of nearly 2,000 images, the most useful of which have been those in the William H. Thompson collection. Taken in the first decade of the 20th century, these images of Hartford document the parts of the city rarely seen in postcards and souvenir books of the day. Many of these photos capture street scene’s in the eastern part of the city, which was leveled some 50 years later and redeveloped into today’s Constitution Plaza.
Digital Commonwealth: I haven’t used much from this site yet, but it’s a good place to find a wide range of images and other documents from public libraries around Massachusetts. Many, but not all of the images on the Boston Public Library Flickr page can also be found here, along with images from many other libraries. Not all of the images on Digital Commonwealth are in the public domain, but most can be used for noncommercial purposes.
Internet Archive: The Internet Archive is a vast resource that includes literally millions of public domain books available in pdf and other file formats. Generally the image quality isn’t great, which is to be expected from an image of a pdf of a scan of a small image in an old book. However, it’s a good place to find images that otherwise aren’t available, but it takes a little digging through scanned books to find the right photos.
Library of Congress: The Library of Congress has hundreds of thousands of historic images online, most of which have no known copyright restrictions. A couple of my favorite collections are the Detroit Publishing Company, which has thousands of high-resolution, high-quality images from the early 20th century, and the National Child Labor Committee, which has around 5,000 photos documenting child labor in the United States between 1908 and 1924.
Monson Free Library: Although a much smaller institution than most of the others listed here, the public library from my old hometown of Monson, Massachusetts has been helpful in providing images of important town landmarks. Their photographic archives are not online, but the library staff has provided me with digital copies of some of their material to use on Lost New England.
National Archives: Compared to some of the other collections listed here, the National Archives collections on their Flickr account are fairly limited; they only have around 12,000 images. Still, there is plenty of great material to be found, especially in their collections of Civil War photos by Matthew Brady and their Great Depression photos by Lewis Wickes Hine. And the good news is most of the images are high resolution with no known copyright restrictions.
New York Public Library Digital Collections: The NYPL has a massive online collection that I have barely scratched the surface of, but it is a great resource. In particular, I have used many images from the Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views, which consists of over 40,000 stereocards. Many of these are hard-to-find images of New England from the second half of the 19th century, and as far as I can tell all of these images are in the public domain, with free high-resolution downloads available on the NYPL website.
Springfield Preservation Trust WPA Image Project: As a resident of Springfield Mass, I am particularly appreciative of the time and effort that the SPT has put into digitizing and posting the images of the city from the Works Progress Administration. In 1938 and 1939, the WPA photographed every building in the city, although not all of them have been digitized yet. Like the photos from the City of Boston Archives, these images were entirely utilitarian, so they aren’t of the greatest quality, and many are very poorly composed. But, they are a valuable resource in documenting Springfield during the 1930s, and I have been working on recreating more of these.
Wilbraham Public Library: Some of their photos are available through Digital Commonwealth, and they have even more on their own website, but there are many more images and other documents available in the library, and the staff has been extremely helpful in providing Lost New England with high resolution scans of these images.