Wellcome Images Releases Over 100,000 Historical Images Online With CC-BY License

Wellcome Images, developed by the Wellcome Library in London, England, has announced the release of over 100,000 images now freely available under Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license. Users can download high resolution images to be used for personal or commercial purposes, with an acknowledgement to the Wellcome Library.

While Wellcome Images focuses mainly on images related health, medicine, and biomedical science, the content found in its vast collection spills into numerous other disciplines such as the arts and humanities. More information about the collection and Wellcome Library’s open access policy can be found below.

A woman diving off a bathing wagon in to the sea.

Venus getting ready for Summer Olympics 2016

From the Wellcome Library blog:

The images can be downloaded in high-resolution directly from the Wellcome Images website for users to freely copy, distribute, edit, manipulate, and build upon as you wish, for personal or commercial use. The images range from ancient medical manuscripts to etchings by artists such as Vincent Van Gogh andFrancisco Goya.

The earliest item is an Egyptian prescription on papyrus, and treasures include exquisite medieval illuminated manuscripts and anatomical drawings, from delicate 16th century fugitive sheets, whose hinged paper flaps reveal hidden viscera to Paolo Mascagni’s vibrantly coloured etching of an ‘exploded’ torso.

Other treasures include a beautiful Persian horoscope for the 15th-century prince Iskandar, sharply sketched satires by RowlandsonGillray and Cruikshank, as well as photography from  Eadweard Muybridge’s studies of motion. John Thomson’s remarkable nineteenth century portraits from his travels in China can be downloaded, as well a newly added series of photographs of hysteric and epileptic patients at the famous Salpêtrière Hospital

Simon Chaplin, Head of the Wellcome Library, says “Together the collection amounts to a dizzying visual record of centuries of human culture, and our attempts to understand our bodies, minds and health through art and observation. As a strong supporter of open access, we want to make sure these images can be used and enjoyed by anyone without restriction.”

If you are using Internet Explorer, just clear your browser cache to ensure that you’re directed to the updated site with the high resolution content.

Should you need any more information about the launch of these historical images, please don’t hesitate to contact the Wellcome Images team.

Images from the History of Medicine

Images from the History of Medicine (IHM) provides access to nearly 70,000 images in the collections of the History of Medicine Division (HMD) of the U.S National Library of Medicine (NLM).

The collection includes portraits, photographs, caricatures, genre scenes, posters, and graphic art illustrating the social and historical aspects of medicine dated from the 15th to 21st century.

Vein man

Anatomy of a SkeletonStop Aids

Several subgroups within the database are interesting as separate entities. A collection of 6,000 wood engravings of prominent European physicians, purchased in Amsterdam in 1879, was the Library’s first graphic arts acquisition. There are illustrations from landmark medical treatises, such as Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica and William Harvey’s De motu cordis. Among the fine prints are several hundred caricatures on medical subjects by Daumier, Cruikshank, Rowlandson, and Boilly. There are patent medicine advertisements from the late 19th century and posters on contemporary issues, such as AIDS, smoking, and illicit drugs.

(Text and images from Images from the History of Medicine at the National Library of Medicine’s website.)

“The Commons” on Flickr

Flickr is home to “The Commons,” a public photo collection that began in 2008 as a collaboration between Flickr and the Library of Congress. It has since expanded to include over 45 institutions, including NASA, the Imperial War Museum, and the New York Public Librar. The Commons is host to thousands of images covering a breadth of subjects, all copyright free.

Users are invited to add tags and descriptions to the photos, making the collection richer and more accessible.


Europeana provides access to over six million digital items, including images, texts, sounds, and videos. It is funded by the European Commission and its member states, and includes content from museum, galleries, libraries, archives, and audio-visual collections.

The extensive list of organizations that Europeana pulls its content from includes notable institutions such as the Rijksmuseum, the British Library, and the Louvre.

Currently the online collection is in its beta version, but version 1.0 will be launch later in 2010 and will include links to over ten million digital items.

Wellcome Images: 2000 Years of Human Culture

Wellcome ImagesWellcome Images is a rich and unique collection of digital images drawn from the biomedial and social history collections of the Library of the Wellcome Trust in London, England.  In addition to over 40,000 images from clinical and biomedical sciences, the collection also contains historical images, Tibetan Buddhist paintings, Ancient Sanskrit manuscripts, and illustrated Persian books. Images on this site are freely available for download for personal, academic teaching or study use, under one of two Creative Commons licenses.

A fly on sugar crystals

Colon cancer cells