LIFE magazine, which helped define the last American century but foundered badly in this one, had one of the richest image banks in the world — and until recently, 97 percent of those images had never seen the light of day. Now Google is digitizing all of LIFE’s photographs and using them to seed its Image Search engine: It’s a fifth of the way there, and already the results are astonishing.
You’ll see Abraham Lincoln at Antietam, Nixon at the Great Wall of China, and portraits of Rasputin, T. S. Eliot, Gandhi, and Frank Lloyd Wright. The archive includes photo essays: Dorothea Lange’s Depression-era snapshots, Margaret Bourke-White’s photos of Buchenwald, and Larry Burrows’s nine-years-in-the-making Vietnam series. Google plans to post the remaining images in 2009, giving this most deserving archive the afterlife it richly deserves.
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