Sunday, February 15, 2009

Flickr Commons and Disability History


[Clothed man stands facing camera, shortened right leg encas...
Originally uploaded by New York Public Library

It's widely noted in disability history that the problem with finding primary sources isn't their existence--the stuff is out there, but it's hard to find in catalogs, older finding aids may not mention such content, etc. Then there's the Flickr Commons project. The photo above, of a Civil War veteran whose shortened right leg is inside a brace, with a prosthetic foot, is from uploads at Flickr Commons from the US Sanitary Commission collections at the New York Public Library. Because it's a Commons project, you and I and anyone else can add tags like "disability" and "disabled veteran" and "prosthetics" to such images, so they can be found by others with those interests; if you know something about, say, the kind of bracing displayed here, you can explain it in comments, and so can anyone else who has something to add. It's crowdsourcing, and it's a great chance to put disability history into the information that accompanies images like this.

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