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U.S. Government Photos and Images
Links to a multitude of government sites and image galleries, which are divided into categories. Some of these links appear on this guide; others do not.
Restrictions may apply to the images. Review the policies of the individual sites for this information.
NSSDC Photo Gallery
Images of planets, spacecrafts, and other astronomical objects.
Although the images are public domain, the site asks that "you acknowledge NASA and the NSSDC as the supplier of the data. In addition, where the source of the image (by project or as a specific person) is credited in the text, you should also acknowledge that, too. "
GRIN (Great Images in NASA)
GRIN is a database of historical images - chosen for their historical significance and visual impact - which document NASA and its programs. Images include aircraft and spacecraft, robotic planetary exploration, astronaut training, and images taken by NASA spacecraft. Search by subject
, center, or keyword.
Images on this site are not copyrighted unless otherwise noted. NASA should be acknowledged as the source.
NASA Photo Gallery
Search NASA's various galleries for photos, videos, and other media.
Most images are not under copyright and are free to use for noncommercial purposes; for commercial use, "it must not explicitly or implicitly convey NASA's endorsement of commercial goods or services." Some images are under copyright, so check under each photo for restrictions. NASA asks to be acknowledged as the source of the material.
Environment, Geography, and Maps
U.S. Geographical Survey (USGS) Multimedia Gallery
Image collections relating to a variety of disciplines and locations. These range from plants and animals to climate change, national parks to natural hazards, natural resources to water. In the broader spectrum, you may look up images relating to biology, geology, geography, environment, and astrogeology. Also check out the "Other Photo Collections" in the right column of this site's page for more images.
Most images are public domain (the ones which come from the USGS); others may be under copyright, for which you would have to obtain permission from the creator. For USGS public domain images, the USGS asks that you credit them in one of the following ways:
Credit: U.S. Geological Survey
Department of the Interior/USGS
U.S. Geological Survey/photo by Jane Doe (if the photographer/artist is known)
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Photographic Library
Find images related to the earth and the natural sciences. You may search by keyword, but the site also has ways to search for specific occurrences, people, landmarks (e.g. "Old Faithful"), survey expeditions, etc. Most of the images in the collection appear to be older, but there are also some newer photos, depending on your search. The same usage rules apply as noted above for the USGS.
Aerial Photographs and Satellite Images (from the USGS)
Includes many galleries of maps and satellite images as well as photos taken from the International Space Station. The same usage rules apply as noted above for the USGS.
Search for maps of the United States or go to the "Map Maker" to create your own map. You may add a number of layers relating to biology, people, government, and many other categories. Save and share the maps you create.
Most information on the site is public domain, but there may be some copyrighted material on the USGS' pages.
CIA World Factbook
Search for flags and maps of countries.
All information is public domain unless otherwise stated. The CIA requests that the "Central Intelligence Agency be cited as the source of the information and that any photo credits or bylines be similarly credited to the photographer or author or Central Intelligence Agency, as appropriate."
History and Government
U.S. Senate Art Collections
This site contains collections of art from the Senate wing of the U.S. Capitol and the Senate office buildings. Search through paintings, sculptures, furniture, and graphic art relating to U.S. history and the U.S. Senate. Using the search box will only provide links to the images, not the images themselves, so it may be easier to browse by category.
Information on this site is considered public information and may be copied and distributed unless otherwise specified. It is requested that you use the appropriate byline/photo/image credits for any images you use.
Art and Architecture of Capitol Hill
Images and video from the Capitol and Capitol Grounds. Explore art, architecture, and images (current and historical) from Architect of the Capitol. Most of these images are linked to the U.S. Capitol's photo stream on Flickr and can be searched from that site.
The images on this site are considered public domain and may be downloaded for personal, educational, or scholarly use. However, you may not use the images for any commercial or promotional purposes. When you use an image or video from the site, you must have an attributive line reading “Architect of the Capitol.”
The National Archives: Online Public Access
Search billions of records in the National Archives pertaining to business conducted by the United States government. Online Public Access (OPA) is a new search engine for the National Archives which allows you to simultaneously search all web pages on Archives.gov. To specifically search for images, choose "Advanced Search." Under "Search fields for Archival Descriptions," you may either limit the "Type of Archival Materials" to "Photographs and Other Graphic Material," or you may limit the "File Format of Archival Materials" to "Image."
The majority of the images on this site are public domain, but there may be a few images under copyright. Check the "Access Restrictions" field of each record for more information. The National Archives and Records Administration would appreciate it if you credited them as the source of information, although it is not necessary.
U.S. Department of Defense
Search through image collections (Lightboxes) or by keyword. Although these collections are military-related, they also include more general pictures of people and places as well as events such as the 2012 Olympics or the 2013 Midwest Flooding. You may download the images or put them in your "shopping cart" to view later. Go to the DoD's archives
, the main imagery site for all DoD enterprises, to perform a more advanced search.
The DoD requires that you attribute any images you use. You are not allowed to change the image in a way that will misrepresent the original image (cropping, resizing, etc. is fine), and you must make sure that the photo has been released. You can find this information in the image's description by the photo credits.
Military images as well as more varied photos. Search by category or keyword. Categories may include events (e.g. Earth Day, African American History Month), natural disasters and relief efforts, and memorials.
The images are public domain, but the Airforce requests that you attribute anything you use.
All images are public domain, but the department asks that you credit the Department of Justice, though not necessary.
Naval History and Heritage Command
The NHHC is currently updating their holdings, but some selected historical images are available online, categorized by topic.
All images are thought to be public domain. The Navy requests that you use appropriate byline/photo/image credits for any images you use.
Plants, Animals, Places
USDA - Agriculture Research Service
Search agriculture-related photos taken by the Agricultural Research Service Information Staff. Search for specific images or by category. If you wish to download a picture, you will be asked to indicate how you will be using the photo, but this is optional.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Digital Library
Search images, audio, documents, video, and maps for materials concerning fish, wildlife, and plants as well as the habitats in which they exist. Most of the images should be public domain - those which are not are intended for personal and private use. Each picture will give you its licensing information in its description under "Rights." The USFWS asks that you credit the creator and the USFWS in the following way:
Credit: John Doe/USFWS
You may also search the USFWS's flickr sites by region (e.g. Northeast Region). These images usually have an attributive license. If you choose "Browse All," you can limit your search to the type of media.
National Park Service Photo Gallery
The site is a little difficult to search, but there is a plethora of images and galleries to browse.
You may go through the main site
to search individual parks by name or state, and it also includes some park museum holdings. Many parks have interactive panoramic views, videos, and other media. From the main site
, you can access different types of collections through the "Discover History" tab >> "Collections." The main link given above, however, is the best way to browse the NPS gallery.
All images on the NPS site are public domain.
United States Antarctic Program (USAP)
This site includes wildlife, people, landscapes, science, transportation, stations, and historical images pertaining to Antarctica.
Images are free to use for non-commercial purposes; the photographer and National Science Foundation must be credited. When you choose to download a photo, the full usage agreement will appear.
NRCS Photo Gallery
Conservation and natural resource related photographs from the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service. Search by state or keyword, or choose the "Advanced Search" option to search various criteria.
The NRCS asks that you provide one of the following credit lines:
Photo by (photographer's name), USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Photo courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Photo by USDA NRCS
Science and Health
National Science Foundation
The images on this site are a bit difficult to search, but you may use the "Search Multimedia" link to search for a keyword or phrase and limit the search by media type.
Images are intended for private, educational, and/or nonprofit/non-commercial use. You must attribute the NSF in the following way: "Courtesy: National Science Foundation." Check each photo for special restrictions.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Some of the material on this site may be disturbing to or unsuitable for some viewers. (NOTE: When you click on this link, you will likely have to click "re-establish your session" in order to start your search.)
The CDS's Public Health Image Library (PHIL) has collections of public health-related images, including electronic microscope photos, natural disasters, bioterrorism, parasites, bacteria, food, and environmental health. The advanced search will allow you to search by location, organization, and tree-style categories; you may also search for public domain photos only.
You will have to check below each photo to determine if it is in the public domain or if it is copyrighted. For public domain images, the CDC asks that you credit the institution and creator, if known, for publicly distributed media. If the image is copyrighted, you would need to contact the provider to obtain usage rights.
Images from the History of Medicine (IHM)
Over 70,000 images are available online from the History of Medicine Division (HMD) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM). Most of these images may be used for "private study, scholarship, and research," but some may be under copyright. Check each image individually for more copyright information. The governmental information is public domain, but it is requested that you acknowledge the National Library of Medicine (NLM).
You may also browse selected historical anatomical images (ranging from the 15th-19th centuries) from the NLM's atlas collection in Historical Anatomies on the Web
National Cancer Institute
Browse by topic or search images. There is, of course, a large collection of cancer-related images, but there are also many images relating to food and drink, anatomy, historical images, and stock photos.
Most of the images are public domain (check each for copyright). Any image you use must "acknowledge NCI as the originator, the NCI Web site, www.cancer.gov, as the source and/or the image creator.
The source can be cited as: The Web site of the National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov)."
Weather and Natural Disasters
National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL)
The NSSL contains a collection of weather and severe storm images. You may search the catalog or browse by album. You may also use the "Search" tab to do a keyword search.
Most of the images are public domain, but the NSSL notes that a few are under copyright. The NSSL requires you to credit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce and the photographer and his/her organization, if applicable.
Search for specific images or browse the collections. Searches may be conducted by location, keyword, disaster number, etc. Most images relate to natural disasters, but there are also more general images available.
Images are not copyrighted; according to FEMA, "You may use FEMA audio, video or photographs for educational or informational purposes, including photo collections, textbooks, public exhibits and Internet web pages." Some photos may have a Copyright Notice. For these, you would have to obtain permission to use the image. FEMA asks that you credit the image in the following way:
FEMA/(photographer’s name), or without a photographer’s name: FEMA News Photo