Wellcome Library donates 100,000 medical images to Wikimedia Commons

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A blow fly (Chrysomya chloropyga). Coloured drawing by A.J.E Wellcome V0022553.jpg
This image of a female blow fly (Chrysomya chloropyga) is part of the Wellcome Library’s medical image collection, now available on Wikimedia Commons.
Drawing by Amedeo John Engel Terzi. From Wellcome Library, licensed under CC-BY-4.0

The Wellcome Library has donated over 100,000 images on medical history, which have now been uploaded on Wikimedia Commons. The high resolution photographs and scans are used to illustrate a wide range of Wikipedia articles such as disease, art history, cartoons, sexuality and biographies.

Wellcome Images provide free public access to their digital collection online, covering topics from medical and social history to current healthcare and biomedical science. Wellcome Images is part of the Wellcome Collection, with an extensive range of manuscripts, archives, paintings, prints and drawings. See http://wellcomeimages.org.

The Wellcome Library are thrilled with the mass upload of the historical Wellcome Images to Wiki commons, and would like to thank Wikimedia UK for its support, and Fae, as an independent Wikimedia Commons volunteer, who has worked on the uploads over the past few months. We are delighted that 100k images from our extraordinarily diverse collection are now visible through the most consulted information resource on the planet.

Robert Kiley, Acting Head of Wellcome Library.

As a longtime Wikimedia Commons supporter, I contacted Wellcome Images with a proposal to upload the entire collection, which Wellcome Images supplied on a hard disk (the collection took 300 gigabytes). The images have proven highly popular, with nearly 500 fellow Wikimedia Commons volunteers helping to categorize and reuse the images in Wikipedia articles, along with significant interest for related projects with Wiki Project Med and Wikimedia LGBT+. The images were released on the Wellcome Library’s website in 2014 with a non-commercial restriction. Following discussion and a workshop with Wikimedia volunteers, they were changed over to a CC-BY license, to ensure that the public can easily reuse the collection for any purpose.

Sample images

Here are some of the 100,000 images from Wellcome Library, now freely licensed under CC-BY-4.0 on Wikimedia Commons:

A corpulent man, his pain from gout shown by a demon.
Lithograph by George Cruikshank.

A baby’s teething charm, Roman Empire, 1st to 6th century AD. Battle at Ta-ping gate in 1911, Nankin, China.
Lithograph by T. Miyano.

The collection can be browsed at Category:Files from Wellcome Images on Wikimedia Commons. The mass upload project page with discussion and on-going live reports can be found at Commons:Batch uploading/Wellcome Images.

— Ashley Van Haeften (, twitter: @Faewik)

Archive notice: This is an archived post from blog.wikimedia.org, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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