Your Tax Dollars at Work: 5 Great U.S. Government Resources for Free Images


So, you’ve written a great blog post about environmental pressures on our national parks, and you need a stunning image to hook your reader. Where to grab the perfect illustration without worrying about copyrights and royalty fees?

Just ask Uncle Sam.

Many federal government websites provide a wealth of free images that are in the public domain, requiring only a photo credit. After all, since the images were created by government employees, you already paid for use privileges the last time you filed your income taxes.

Here are five sites that offer intriguing finds:

The Library of Congress
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html

Here you’ll find an incredible array of images on topics ranging from the history of baseball in America to photos of the Wright brothers’ experiments with kites. It’s easy to get lost browsing through the digital database. Be sure to check usage rights, as some images do have restrictions.

US Antarctic Program
http://photolibrary.usap.gov/

Love penguins? Need an illustration for your piece on global warming? This site features beautiful images of the Antarctic created under the auspices of the National Science Foundation.

NOAA
http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/

If you’re fascinated by clouds, hurricane chasing or creatures of the deep, this is your url. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website includes images of sky, sea and a wide range of wildlife.

Flags and Maps from the CIA
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html

Need a flag of Bhutan or a map of Afghanistan to illustrate your political analysis? The CIA’s World Factbook is your go-to site for downloads.

Natural Resources Conservation Service
http://photogallery.nrcs.usda.gov/Index.asp

The NRCS’s site, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, features both stunning and sobering images of the American landscape that illustrate human impact on our environment.

Many more sites are worth surfing for free images. Check out the listings at Wikipedia’s public domain image resources. Just beware: Double-check the actual websites to be sure there is no copyright restriction language.

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One Response to “Your Tax Dollars at Work: 5 Great U.S. Government Resources for Free Images”

  1. […] Of course, there are also many government resources for public domain images. You’ll find a few places to start in this post I wrote back in July 2011, Your Tax Dollars at Work: 5 Great Government Resources for Free Images. […]

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