17 October 2010

Sentimental Sunday: Nothing Says It Like an Illustration

Family "artifacts" are a great way to illustrate a history. Illustrations bring a history to life and they draw the reader into the story. No pictures of the person or too few for your purpose? What about a family heirloom that belongs to you or someone you know. Take a photo of the item (or scan it if that's possible) and use it to illustrate.  Or go to a museum or historical society and take pictures there. The Library of Congress has many digital collections on-line. The legal restrictions for use are included with the item. Some may be used freely; others include known information regarding ownership and who to contact for permission. Work created by employees of the federal government as part of their job is in the public domain, not protected by copyright.

From a collection of kitchen articles found in museum
in the stockyards in Fort Worth, Texas

Roller box used for a teacher's visual aid--made by my
Great-grandfather C.N. Christensen and owned by
my sister Annalee Barajas
My personal experience is that most museums and historical societies are very generous with permission to use a photo if the use is limited to personal or family history use. Of course it is important to give credit for all illustrations used.

Make sure it's okay to use photography in a museum, too. And remember that just because it's on the internet, it's not necessarily free from copyright.  (And it may be too small in dpi resolution for adequate printing anyway--more on this tomorrow.)

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