Massive archive of US Army medical illustrations and photos free online

An incredible archive of US Army medical photos and illustrations is being made available free under a Creative Commons Attribution license on Flickr by the National Museum of Health and Medicine:
This previously unreported archive at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C., contains 500,000 scans of unique images so far, with another 225,000 set to be digitized this year.

Mike Rhode, the museum's head archivist, is working to make tens of thousands of those images, which have been buried in the museum's archive, available on Flickr. Working after hours, his team has posted a curated selection of almost 800 photos on the service already, without the express permission of the Army.

"You pay taxes. These are your pictures," Rhode said. "You should be able to see them."

Medical Museum's Flickr stream

Rare Trove of Army Medical Photos Heads to Flickr

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  1. Health brochures were titled “Know Your Enemy”? Whatever happened to “Don’t Let This Happen To You”?

  2. any docs here who could explain what exactly is it..lower jaw with the skull….I guess this guy was watching a horror flick which is why his jaw remained open, and the upper jaw vanished :P

  3. oh noes!!
    now the terrerists have access to classified sensitive data and can exploit our anatomical and physiological weaknesses to their advantage!!

    i hope that all of the subjects’ consent waivers are in order.

    INFORMATION WANTS TO BE FREE!!

  4. “You pay taxes. These are your pictures,” Rhode said. “You should be able to see them.”

    Shouldn’t these be more properly released into the public domain? I’m a big proponent of CC, except when it represents a more restrictive license than is appropriate. If these images were made with tax dollars, then shouldn’t they already belong to the American people, to be used without restriction?

    If these *aren’t* public domain, how is it that Mike Rhode is applying any sort of license to them?

    All this said, I agree with the sentiment of what’s happening here, though perhaps not the implementation.

  5. The Museum of Heath and Medicine is easily one of the best museums in DC. The trouble is it’s at Walter Reed and kind of a pain to get to. But they’ve got an amazing collection of medical tools, specimens, and other great stuff. On section shocases medical tools of the Civil War along with infected bones from the period. Needless to say those tools differ very little from what you might find in the bed of a roofing contractors pick-up.

  6. I like the idea behind “You pay taxes. These are your pictures,” Rhode said. “You should be able to see them.”

    I’ve always wanted to drive a tank, just once at least, or see the depths of Cheyenne Mountain, or dive in a nuclear submarine, just to name a few.

  7. “Mike Rhode, the museum’s head archivist…”

    I am very glad the US Army archived all those head. It must be a cool job.

  8. While I think that it’s great that these are being made available, I’m disturbed by the blanket use of a Creative Commons license.

    Take, for example, this photograph of Robert E. Lee: http://www.flickr.com/photos/medicalmuseum/255768155/

    While I’m not a lawyer, it seems that this photograph was taken long enough ago that it is in the public domain.

    An additional point that applies to many of these images is that it isn’t indicated whether this photograph was produced by an employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties. If that’s the case, then this photo would also be in the public domain.

    Tacking a arbitrary license on something in the public domain doesn’t really work, right?

  9. Also, regarding “Working after hours, his team has posted a curated selection of almost 800 photos on the service already, without the express permission of the Army. ” – originally we were not blocked from Flickr and uploaded them as we ran across them or someone asked for them. That changed last year as Flickr began being blocked. And the ‘express permission’ is being misunderstood – what we have not yet gotten permission for is joining Flickr Commons along with the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. Flickr asked us to join the Commons last year.

  10. Finally, Boing Boing is blocked as well so you won’t get real-time answers to your questions.

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