This past valentine's day a few days ago was not only even cheesier than last year's (on the radio, they were making up a "Valentine's Eve" on the 13th already -- how long until Valentine's week, month or year emerge?), it was also the 150th birthday of the State of Oregon. If I had to choose what American state I'd like to be a Citizen of, Oregon would rank pretty high on the list.

Just in time for the big one-five-oh, Oregon State University's archives joined the flickr commons, publishing some nice photos from the state's past for everybody to enjoy. I am delighted! Needless to say, the pictures are in the public domain (or so they assume).

Oregon Birthday

Oregon Birthday

Before the OSU Archives joined the "commons" project, they had already added another flickr account on their owns, publishing other gems from their vault, such as these great, historic football programs:

OSU Civil War Program, 1945

OSU vs. USC, 1957

(Thanks for the link, Jean Pierre!)

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Searching for "Karlsruhe" on, I found a few sellers that reprint old photochrom (sic) photographs from the collection of the Library of Congress. Among them, these three beautiful old photos of my university city Karlsruhe (Baden), dated somewhere around the turn of the last century:

Karlsruhe: General View First, the "General View of Karlsruhe" as seen from the residence castle, facing south.

Karlsruhe: Stadtgartensee This one, "Lake in Public Garden" shows the Stadtgartensee, which is now inside the Karlsruhe Zoo.

Karlsruhe: Vierordtbad At last, the Vierordtbad -- a public, in-door pool, that's been built in the 1870s. Completely renovated in the early aughts, it has now as "young" a look as ever. (Side note: The picture title is, incorrectly, "Vierortsbad" = "four city bath", but it was actually called after a gentleman named "Vierordt" who donated some 40 % of the original building costs back in the day).

Very nice photos! But, while this makes the city look "old", Karlsruhe is actually quite the kid, compared to other German cities. It was not founded until 1715, when the Margrave of Baden-Durlach decided to build a new residence -- and a nice little city to go with it.

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The German Federal Archives (Bundesarchiv) are donating about 100,000 pictures to the Wikimedia Commons, all under a Creative Commons 3.0 by-sa (Germany) license. From the wiki page:

Starting on Thursday Dec 4, 2008, Wikimedia Commons will witness a massive upload of new images. We are anticipating about 100,000 files from a donation from the German Federal Archive. These images are mostly related to the history of Germany (including the German Democratic Republic) and are part of a cooperation between Wikimedia Germany and the Federal Archive.


To our knowledge the donation of 100,000 images is single largest one to Wikimedia Commons so far and we are very hopeful that this is only the start of a long lasting relationship that might serve as an example to other archives and image databases.

As noted elsewhere, in Germany this almost counts as the "hell freezing over": When it comes to availability of historic documents created by the government, Germany has so far had a lot to be desired.

Among the photos uploaded so far by the import script are already some nice little gems of German history, for example: "Feierabend", or "calling it a day" in the GDR. The slogan at the gate reads: "100% of our staff oppose re-militarization" (one and a half years later the East German government proclaimed the need for a new national army and founded it another four years later, in 1956) and on the factory wall: "Fünfjahrplan -- Friedensplan", or "Five-Year Plan -- Peace Plan".

How about this one: Water cannon at the border between east and west berlin, right at the Brandenburg Gate (note its pillars in the background), only a stone's throw away from the modern-day German national parliament building. The sign reads: "Warning! You are now leaving West Berlin!" -- a similar sign can still be seen at the historic "Checkpoint Charlie".

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