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Google to archive 10 million Life magazine photos

Life images -- many never published, some dating to 1750s -- will be stored in Google Image Search

By Heather Havenstein
November 18, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Google Inc. today said that it plans to archive as many as 10 million photos and digitized images from the Life magazine archives. Some of the images date back to the 1750s, and many have never been published.

Google today announced that it will add the images from Life photographers to its Google Image Search pages. Only a small percentage of the images -- including newly digitized images from photos and etchings -- have even been published, Google said in a blog post. The rest have been "sitting in dusty archives in the form of negatives, slides, glass plates, etchings, and prints," Google said.

"This effort to bring offline images online was inspired by our mission to organize all the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," according to Google. We're digitizing them so that everyone can easily experience these fascinating moments in time."

The announcement comes in the midst of a ambitious Google effort to add offline content like newspaper archives to its site. In September, it launched an effort to digitize millions of pages of news archives, making millions of old newspaper articles accessible and searchable online. Google has also been digitizing books since 2006.

Google said that so far, about 20% of the Life photo collection is online. The rest of the magazine's entire archive -- 10 million photos -- will be accessible over the next few months. The site now offers access to Life photos of the 1930s oil boom, the 1939 World's Fair in New York, the 1963 March on Washington, the Vietnam War, Franklin D. RooseveltJacqueline Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and other subjects.

The collection will include photos from Life photographers like Alfred Eisenstaedt and Margaret Bourke-White, and it will feature photos of world events and ones that captured everyday lifestyles and fashions, Google said. The photos will be provided with Google's image search results along with other images from across the Web, according to the company.

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