Robert Ridgway Bird Head Drawings, details, 1870s, Smithsonian Institution Archives Record Unit 7167.

Open Access: Put a Bird On It

In alignment with the Smithsonian's newly launched Smithsonian Open Access, the Archives has designated more than 2,000 items as open access!

With the launch of Smithsonian Open Access, the Archives would like to invite you to engage with our content in new and meaningful ways. Open access allows ease of re-use of most of our collections material that falls within the public domain. Items marked with a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) designation are available for direct download and responsible, limitless use, free of charge and with no pesky permissions process. For more information see Smithsonian’s Open Access FAQ.

So far, the Archives has identified roughly 2,000 assets as CC0, including photographs of expositions, early Smithsonian exhibitions, and Washington, D.C. buildings, curators’ annual reports, Board of Regents’ minutes, and scientific drawings, illustrations, and field books. See below for a selection of the Archives’ open access content, or go directly to the Smithsonian’s new Open Access portal, where you will be able to download high resolution TIFF files. Don’t just a put a bird on it…put our bird on it.

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Robert Ridgway Bird Head Drawing #121, 1870s, drawing, Smithsonian Institution Archives Record Unit 7167, Image no. SIA2014-00115.

Illustration of Balistoid by John H. Richard, 1838, scientific illustration, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7186, Image no. SIA2011-1209.

Report on Salmonidae by George Suckley, Plate No. 14, 1857-1861, drawing, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7191, Image no. SIA2014-00549.

United States National Museum, Alcoholic Specimen Room, black-and-white photograph, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 79, Image no. SIA2009-1808.

United States National Museum, Construction of Dome, 1909, black-and-white photograph, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 79, Image no. SIA2009-1971.

Taxidermy Frame for Tiger Model, 1880s, glass negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-007, Image no. MNH-3658.

Centennial Exposition of the Ohio Valley and Central States, 1888, glass negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-007, Image no. MNH-4466.

Inspection by United States Fish Commission of McDonald Fishway with water shut off, at Great Falls of the Potomac, 1880s, glass negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-006, Image no. MAH-3727.

Department of Birds Work Area in the Castle, 1880s, glass negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-006, Image no. MAH-2960.

United States Botanic Garden, 1920-1924, by Martin A. Gruber, black-and-white photographs, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7355, Image no. SIA2010-1937.

Wilson Bentley Snowflake 990, c. 1890, albumen print, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 31, Image no. SIA2013-09130.

Our immediate focus has been on large groupings of material that easily satisfy all criteria for a CC0 designation. Identifying CC0 content will be an ongoing process, and we will be systematically reviewing all of our existing catalog records in the coming months in an effort to make more content available as open access. Some of the content we share on our website does not satisfy our current technical requirements for open access materials at the Smithsonian. For example, compound objects that display as image sets, such as journals or multi-page letters, are currently ineligible, but hopefully we’ll have a fix for that soon. This is just the beginning, and we’ll keep you posted as we add more material!

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