Fall 2002

Save Your Family: A Call for Entries

Publish or perish


The girl shown above, Selma Williamson, grew up to be the grandmother of one of Cabinet’s designers. But the reason for her appearance here is that her picture was taken by an unknown photographer before 1923 and has never previously been published.

On 1 January 2003, all unpublished texts and images produced before 1923 and created by either an unknown person or by someone who died before 1933 (if that person’s identity is known) are scheduled to enter the public domain. This includes everything from Civil War diaries and turn-of-the-century photographs to your great-great-grandparents’ love letters. But if you can somehow manage to get your ­precious photographs and manuscripts published before the deadline, the US government will extend the copyright until 2047. Thus little Selma here is now safe for another 45 years.

It seems unfair that we be the only ones who get to lock up our family photos until mid-century. We are therefore inviting all of our readers to send us digital files of family photographs that would otherwise fall into the public domain (and possibly end up in a Diesel jeans ad) after next January. We will publish all submitted photographs in our December issue and you’ll be able to enjoy them in peace for another 45 years (see here. Please send the digital files in JPEG, GIF, or TIFF format to ---@immaterial.net [this project is no longer accepting entries—Eds.]. The government sets no restrictions on the size of the reproduction—we will print thumbnail-sized reproductions of every image we receive. Please keep the digital files as small as possible.

To see the family photographs that were submitted in response to this call and published in Cabinet no. 9, go here.

If you’ve enjoyed the free articles that we offer on our site, please consider subscribing to our nonprofit magazine. You get twelve online issues and unlimited access to all our archives.