Life Photo Archive Online

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 19, 2008
Updated • Dec 7, 2012
Google, Image

A deal between Life and Google makes more than 10 million photographic images available on the Internet. The collection spans from the 1750s to today. Google provides a special search engine for the collection that uses the company's image search engine on the backbone.

The collection centers around five areas namely People (Kennedy, Picasso), Places (Times Square, New York), Events (Vietnam War, Winter Olympics), Sports (baseball, football) or Culture (Railroad, Cowboys). It is possible to enter any search term which is usually good enough to find many images related to the keyword, or browse some of the suggestions that you find on the start page to get started.

A click on an image will display a larger thumbnail and additional information about it including the location or date taken. The very same page contains links to related images and an option to purchase it as a framed photograph. A click on the image will load it in full size in a new window.

Image resolutions range from 800x1280 to 1280x1280. Could be a nice idea for a present or as a background wallpaper for the PC.

Google Image Search can also be used to search the Life Photo Archive exclusively by appending the source:life parameter to the search.

The majority of images of the archive date to the last couple of centuries made available, that is from the 1940s to the 1970s. The images before are mostly black and white images.

Google displays suggestions at the top of the photo stream, called related searches, which aid you in narrowing down the search or in finding related searches that you may be interested in.

Depending on your search term, you may find yourself browsing a list of hundreds and sometimes even more photos, while other search terms may result in less desirable results.


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  1. Transcontinental said on November 19, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    An invaluable collection. Thanks for this excellent discovery, Martin.

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