‘Wellcome’ addition to images in the public domain

Credit: Annie Cavanagh, Wellcome Images

Credit: Annie Cavanagh, Wellcome Images

Earlier this year – but only recently reported by the Public Domain Review – over 100,000 images from the historical holdings of London’s Wellcome Library were made freely available through the Wellcome Images website.

They were released under the Creative Commons-Attribution only licence and can be downloaded directly from the website for any personal or commercial use.

Wellcome Images  is one of the Wellcome Library‘s major visual collections, and part of Wellcome Collection, a £30 million public venue developed by the Wellcome Trust and opened in 2007.

Okay – that’s a lot of Wellcomes. Back to what Wellcome Images offers:

“The collection amounts to a dizzying and sometimes disturbing visual record of centuries of human culture, and our attempts to understand our bodies, minds and health through art and observation.”  – Catherine Draycott, head of Wellcome Images

It’s “one of the world’s richest and most unique image collections, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and science,” according to its website, which promises, “Whether it’s medicine or magic, the sacred or the profane, science or satire – you’ll find more than you expect.”

“We introduced this radical change to promote usage and access to the Wellcome Library’s amazing resources,” according to Catherine Draycott, who was responsible for the development of the Wellcome Images collection and has been its head since 1992.

“The collection amounts to a dizzying and sometimes disturbing visual record of centuries of human culture, and our attempts to understand our bodies, minds and health through art and observation,” she wrote recently in the Public Domain Review, an online journal and not-for-profit project whose organizers keep their eyes peeled for material that is no longer protected by copyright.

“We hope that the change will mean that this extraordinary collection, with all its variety and its many surprises, will be used by many more people and organisations in their books, magazines and films as well as for individual interest and research,” Draycott said, adding since becoming available on 20 January, more than 65,000 high-resolution images have been downloaded.

The Creative Commons-Attribution only (CC-BY) licence means that all the historical images can be downloaded to freely copy, distribute, edit, manipulate, etc., for personal or commercial use, as long as the Wellcome Library is attributed.

The picture above – a 2006 scanning electron micrograph of red blood cells clearly showing their biconcave disc shape – is one such download (with correct attribution).~TM

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