U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library -http://libraryphoto.cr.usgs.gov
UPDATE 1/21/2015 – As of January 2015, this resource was deactivated. An e-mail to the AskUSGS service revealed that they are in the process of moving the library into a new website. So I’ll leave this entry in place till then.
Meanwhile, the historical photos from the Photographic Library have been loaded into a product called ScienceBase, a resource intended for the loading of science data from many different agencies and organizations. If you search with the keywords that you are interested in and you’ll get a list of search results you can then limit to images. They seem very light on Mt. Saint Helens images but the other examples I listed below seem to be accessible through ScienceBase.
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Representative Questions This Resource Can Answer:
- What did Mount Saint Helens look like in 1964 and in 1984?
- What does the landscape look like in Joshua Tree National Park?
- What did Tokyo look like after its 1923 earthquake?
This photo library contains 30,000 photographs from 1868 to the present. The library can be searched by keyword or by browsing the following topics:
- Mines, Mills, Quarries
- Mount St. Helens
- National Parks
- Pioneer Photographers
- Portrait Collection
Each topic brings up subtopics. The earthquake section is divided up by names of large quakes, such as San Fernando in 1971 or Yemen 1982. The Portraits collection might be useful for seeing clothing styles for the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Aside from being a source to add realistic settings to your stories, this library can be used to illustrate your book, story or website. As stated by the terms of service at http://libraryphoto.cr.usgs.gov/terms_of_use.htm, all of photos in the USGS library are public domain and be used without permission or credit. USGS would appreciate a credit to the photo library.