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Nathaniel Currier was born 27 March 1813 in Massachusetts, son of Nathaniel and Hannah Currier. James Merrit Ives was born in New York in 1824; his father had been superintendent of Bellevue Hospital.1

Currier & Ives lithograph

The two men met for the first time in 1852 — and the rest, as they say, is history.

Between the founding of the firm and its dissolution in 1907, Currier & Ives produced more than 7,500 different lithographs that sold more than a million copies.2

Persistently used for greeting cards and more,3 avidly sought after by collectors,4 Currier & Ives lithographs are among the truly iconic images of an America gone by.

And more than 1,600 of those images are available online, free for the taking, at the website of the Library of Congress.

Including several The Legal Genealogist, for one, wouldn’t mind using for holiday cards and greetings… or to illustrate a blog post.

Remember the law here: anything published in the United States before 1923 is now out of copyright.5 It can be used, reused, modified and republished, because it’s now in the public domain.6

All Currier & Ives lithographs were published before 1923. So they are all out of copyright, all in the public domain.

And because these out-of-copyright items are available at the Library of Congress, we as genealogists don’t have to be concerned about that website’s terms of use — those pesky contract-type restrictions on what the website will allow us to do with its content.7 That’s because the terms of use of the Library of Congress are basically three-fold: (1) don’t violate anybody’s copyright; (2) don’t invade the privacy of individuals whose information might be found in the Library materials; and (3) don’t mess with the site itself.8

So have at it. Here are just some examples of what you can find, at this time of year, in the Currier & Ives collection at the Library of Congress:

Currier & Ives, “Winter in the country: a cold morning,” c18639

Currier & Ives, “Winter morning in the country,” c187310

Currier & Ives, “Central Park, Winter: The skating pond,” 186211

Currier & Ives, “Home in the wilderness,” c187012

And there are only 1,638 more for you to pick from…


 
SOURCES

  1. Currier & Ives – The History of the Firm,” The Currier & Ives Foundation (http://www.currierandives.com/ : accessed 17 Dec 2012).
  2. Ibid.
  3. See e.g. Currier And Ives Cards, Zazzle.com (http://www.zazzle.com : accessed 17 Dec 2012).
  4. Information for collectors may be found at “Currier & Ives FAQs,” Currier & Ives: Perspectives on America (http://www.currierandives.org : accessed 17 Dec 2012).
  5. See Peter B. Hirtle, “Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States,” Cornell Copyright Center (http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm : accessed 17 Dec 2012).
  6. See generally “Where is the public domain?,” Frequently Asked Questions: Definitions, U.S. Copyright Office (http://www.copyright.gov : accessed 17 Dec 2012).
  7. See Judy G. Russell, “A terms of use intro,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 27 Apr 2012 (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 17 Dec 2012).
  8. Judy G. Russell, “Library of Congress terms of use,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 18 Jul 2012 (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 17 Dec 2012).
  9. Currier & Ives, “Winter in the country: a cold morning,” c1863; Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov : accessed 17 Dec 2012).
  10. Currier & Ives, “Winter morning in the country,” c1873; Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov : accessed 17 Dec 2012).
  11. Currier & Ives, “Central Park, Winter: The skating pond,” 1862; Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov : accessed 17 Dec 2012).
  12. Currier & Ives, “Home in the wilderness,” c1870; Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov : accessed 17 Dec 2012).
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