That’s LIFE–on Google Image Search

By  |  Tuesday, November 18, 2008 at 12:57 pm

lifelogoHere’s an unexpected treat: Google Image Search is putting millions of photos from LIFE magazine online for the first time. And not just all the wonderful photos that filled LIFE for decades, either–they’re digitizing the entire LIFE archive, 97 percent of which consists of images that were never published anywhere. All of a suddent, Google Image Search isn’t just about a ginormous but random assortment of pictures all around the Web–it’s also home to some of the best photography ever done anywhere.

A home page for the LIFE collection lives at, or you can just go to,¬† type in whatever keywords you like, and append “source:life” to the end of the query.

The images look great and are in reasonably high resolution, and I can’t think of many more entertaining ways to delve through a sizable chunk of 20th century history than to browse your way through them. A few queriws I had fun with:


american president


ice cream



movie star


All of this is, of course, free, but there is a commercial aspect: You can click through from any image to buy it as a print. Oddly enough, I don’t see any link through to information about what is and isn’t permissible to do with these photos. Search Engine Land has a good post that links to a FAQ, but says that this FAQ doesn’t spell out LIFE’s stance on reuse: They’re up for grabs for personal, noncommercial use but not for professional purposes. I’m hoping that I won’t go to copyright jail if I give you a peek at the searching interface:


Highly recommended–just make sure that you don’t begin browsing if you have any pressing, immediate deadlines…


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1 Comments For This Post

  1. nikky Says:

    wow now im never going to be able to get off the internet

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