Including illustrations in your article or book

Most social scientists accept the value of visual data. You can use them to illustrate a particular point, and they also serve as forms of evidence in their own right. So including them in your published work can make sense, but it isn’t always easy.

Originally, I planned to use about a dozen illustrations in my book on British work camp systems. There are hundreds of images of work camps, labour colonies, training farms and instructional centres, so my main problem at that stage was choosing which images to use, in agreement with the publisher. Then came the crunch: negotiating with copyright holders.

Most of the photographic images are under the control of large firms. You may have heard of some: Getty and Corbis, for instance, own the copyright of many photographs originally commissioned by the press, while Francis Frith specialises in old postcard collections (yes, postcards – of work camps).

Still others belong to libraries and archives. Sometimes the archivist does not know who holds copyright; sometimes they don’t reply, or apparently have never heard of the image, which, of course, you have found on their website.

Almost all of these organisations charge for their services. Some don’t, including the fabulous British Museum. Others do: Newham Library has several images of the 1906 Triangle Camp, taken when unemployed Londoners squatted and worked a patch of waste land in order to show that they were not idle; they charge £5 to scan each image, £40 for UK reproduction and £80 for worldwide use – in short, £125 for the first edition of the book using the image, and £120 for subsequent editions.

This isn’t a lot, and it is certainly less than most big private companies charge. But what it means is that a dozen images will cost far more than you will ever receive in royalties. And working your way through the procedures is loaded with risk and uncertainty: if you tick the wrong box on – say – paperback sales in Samoa, and pay the wrong fee, what happens next? I was not keen to find out.

In the end, after talking with the publisher, I gave up. We decided to use an image on the front cover of men at an International Voluntary Service camp in South Wales; it’s a good photo, but we chose it partly because the IVS archivist happily provided the image for free, and even wanted to know which format we would prefer.

What is really frustrating is that several other people offered images for free. The photo at the head of the blog shows young women and men at the David Eder training farm, run by a Zionist youth movement for members who wanted to prepare for life on a Kibbutz. It is one of a fantastic series of images given to me by Allen Bordoley, whose uncle attended the farm, and who himself knows and helped interview several trainees.

I could, I suppose, simply have used the images that came for free. That would, though, have strongly biassed the story. No images of women (Getty hold the copyright to a fine picture of women standing in line outside the Lapsewood Home Training Centre, brooms and dustpans held out for inspection), for example. None of the major Instructional Centres, or the local government labour colonies.

But it would have included a letter from Wigmore Instructional Centre. It was written by Hughie Edwards, an unemployed Welshman, on tree bark, and was given to me by his nephew. Hughie wrote:

Dear Maw, Just a few lines hoping you are ok the same as I am. I am sending you a photo of the South Wales boys and myself, it was taken up the forest. Well, I will only be here for a week next Wednesday. And overleaf: This bark was out of a tree in July 4th 1934 in Wigmore.

Wigmore hughie edwards2

Does this tell us something useful about trainees’ experiences in the work camps? Right now, I’m annoyed with myself for giving up so easily.

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3 thoughts on “Including illustrations in your article or book

  1. Dear John,

    That is a shocking illustration of how far we have to go, and how very little we have been helped by Google. Following their refusal to cooperate with the US Government in their efforts to create a a free virtual library for the world, the US has gone ahead, as you probably know. The new site includes access to the photographic archives of NY City Library, which provides free access to dozens of pictures of work camps, though I doubt they are of any use to you for your current purpose.

    The URL is dp.la/

    Good luck!

    Michael

  2. Interesting issue. i’m about to encounter the same, as I want to include images to illustrates different metaphors relating to women’s careers – glass ceiling, leaky pipes etc. Visuals can be so much more than illustrations.

  3. Hi John – a great post (they always are!) which brings into focus issues of licensing; rights & ethics,and visual property in the digital world we live in.There are very few easy answers to this one, – quite likely none! This is probably not going to help you very much, but I have a colleague who has devised a fabulous tool for educators seeking to use creative commons images with attributes. In my understanding of how it works he has created a filter + search on Flickr which throws up only images for the term you use to search, which have already been granted creative commons licence by their owner. The link is: http://johnjohnston.info/flickrCC/
    I don’t think it will provide you with what you need for this book but it’s a very useful tool to know about anyway. best of luck
    Catriona

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