LIFE's Photo Collection Goes Online With Google

In the almost seventy years that the photojournalism magazine LIFE magazine was published, the publication amassed a huge collection of images. Some of the images in this collection even date back to eighteenth-century etchings and nineteenth-century photographic glass plates. The total collection of images in the LIFE archive numbers approximately 10 million--the vast majority of which have never been published before.

With Google's help, that is all about to change. Google and LIFE have already digitized about 2 million of these images; starting today, Google is making all the images publicly available online. Google promises that it will be bringing the entire library of 10 million images online in the next few months.

"It has been a thrill for us to explore this archive, filled with images captured by LIFE's famous photographers. See masters like Alfred Eisenstaedt and Margaret Bourke-White documenting pivotal world events, capturing the evolution of lifestyles and fashions, and opening windows into the lives of celebrities and everyday people." -- Paco Galanes, Google Software Engineer

 Source: LIFE via Google Images
With the heart of the images covering the mid 1930's through the mid 1970's, users can explore a visual history of the twentieth century. Periods such as the Great Depression, World War II, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War can all be explored; as can world-changing events such as the Wright Brothers' first flight, Robert Kennedy's assassination,  or man first landing on the Moon.

The LIFE image collection can be accessed several ways. Google has created a home page to host the site at Additionally, the collection can be searched in Google Images by adding "source:life" to the end of any search (such as John F. Kennedy source:life). Without the "source:life" addendum to the search criteria, LIFE collection images will still show up in Google Image searches, but are likely to get lost in the sheer volume of results from all image sources. LIFE magazine has also set up a site at, but as of yet, the site does not appear to be active beyond a homepage with a tiled slideshow of images from the collection.

When you click on the thumbnail of an image, it opens as a mid-sized image on a page with some additional information about the image, such as where and when it was shot and who the photographer was. Clicking on the mid-sized image opens a full-sized image, but with a LIFE watermark in the lower-right-hand corner. Professional-quality prints of the images can be ordered from LIFE via a link on the image details page.

The LIFE image collection project is similar in nature to the project started earlier this year when the Library of Congress partnered with flickr on The Commons project, where the Library of Congress made about 3,000 images from two of its most-popular collections available online on flickr.
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