(Image: Informal close-up photo of Blanche Stuart Scott circa 1960; Scott was a pioneer aviatrix of the 1910s and was the only woman taught to fly by Glenn Curtiss. She was also the first U.S. woman to fly solo. Photographer unknown; released on Flickr by the Smithsonian Institution.)

The Smithsonian just released 6,288 images that appear to be in the public domain; they’re now available on Flickr. And they’re pretty damn cool — there are images grouped in categories ranging from Muybridge cyanotypes to uniforms, mining to structures, and a whole lot more.

Gosh, these Internets: There’s really something to ’em. In addition to the dizzying array of historoporn, a letter from public.resource.org outlines three goals related to making the images available:

  1. The unwieldy archive of low-resolution images on the Smithsonian site makes it hard for people to ascertain the public domain status of the vast majority of these images. By placing the database on sites such as Flickr and in convenient-to-examine PDF and tarball formats, we hope that the Internet commnunity is able to form a better judgement.
  2. Some images are clearly in the public domain and of immense public importance. For these images, our nonprofit organization is attempting to systematically purchase these images and place them on the net for use without restriction.
  3. We would like to see the Smithsonian adopt a policy for on-line distribution that is much more closely aligned to their mission, focusing on vastly increasing the store of public domain materials available on the Internet.

Here here!

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Just happened upon an iiiiiinteresting new Web site that is experimenting with helping people get access to reprints of public domain books (those out of copyright that have been scanned, for example, and put on Google Books).

It’s not completely free — if you want a reprint, you purchase it through Lulu — but prices are reasonable, and where else are you going to find a copy of Early Woodcut Initials, freshly bound, for $16.99?