10 Free Historical Photo Sites for Finding Your Ancestors

No items found.

Find Old Family Photos Using These Free Sites

10 Free Historical Photo Sites for Finding Your Ancestors

Photo Credit: Robin Hutton via Compfight cc

If you’re like us, you love flipping through old family photo albums to discover more about your family’s history. And if you’ve been fortunate enough to interview your elderly or extended family members, they’ve likely divulged some fun and interesting stories behind those photos that you’ve happily added to your family tree.

In addition to your old family photo albums, there are other great places to find old photographs of your ancestors, including historical photo websites you can use for free!

Whether you’re looking for a specific family member, or wish to find old photos of your ancestral hometowns, these 10 free historical photo sites will allow you to search for and discover more about your family’s history online.

10 Free Historical Photo Sites for Family Historians

1. Ancestor Search – Photo Search Engine

An interactive directory of the best, free genealogy and historic photo search engines. Search top world-wide and specialized databases. To search for photos, enter a surname and discover long-lost ancestors.

2. Ellis Island Passenger Ship Search

If your ancestors immigrated to Ellis Island, you should use this passenger ship photo search tool by Steve Morse. Find pictures of the ships that brought your immigrant ancestors to America by searching the official Ellis Island website as well as other passenger ship databases.

Passenger Ship Historical Photo , Ellis Island Passenger Ship Search, Free Historical Photo Sites

Photo Credit: amphalon via Compfight cc

3. Family Old Photos

Search this free historic photo archive that contains over 32,000 old photographs. Discover ancestors and the towns in which they lived. You can also search for your family surnames as well as old pictures of family members. There is even an option to add your own family photos.

4. The Francis Frith Collection

Explore your British roots by searching over 138,000 old photos of 32,000 UK towns and villages taken between 1860 and 1970. You can also sift through 1,700 local and nostalgic books, 27,000 old maps and close to 50,000 shared memories.

UK Historical Village Photo, Francis Frith Collection, Free Historical Photo Sites

Photo Credit: postaletrice via Compfight cc

5. Images of England

Images of England allows you to view over 370,000 images of your English ancestors’ villages. This digital library of photos includes England’s buildings recorded at the turn of the 21st century. You’ll find everything from gravestones, to historic houses, churchyard monuments and more.

6. Library of Congress Historic Photos Flickr Project

Explore this amazing collection of historic photos from the Library of Congress archives. These digital versions of popular Library of Congress image collections rely on the identifying information that came with the original photos. Because the text can be incomplete, viewers can add names, descriptions, locations and tags to make the images even easier for people to discover their ancestral roots.

American Ancestor Historical Photo Portrait, Library of Congress, Free Historical Photo Sites

Photo Credit: j2dread via Compfight cc

7. Military History Institute Photographs

Did your ancestor serve in the United States military? If so, you’ll want to explore this collection of photographs containing Civil War and Vietnam War soldiers. Other wars are also represented in this diverse collection.

8. The National Archives and Records Administration

The National Archives and Records Administration provides excellent download quality of public domain historic images. The search engine (ARC) also offers detailed search queries to make finding images from government agencies even easier. From EPA photographs of 1970s Texas to the Labor Bureau’s child labor images, you’re bound to find something interesting about your ancestors here.

Child Laborers Historical Photo, NARA, Free Historical Photo Sites

Photo Credit: postaletrice via Compfight cc

9. National Portrait Gallery

Search through over 100,000 portraits of historically significant Americans and other photographs by American artists. The gallery also contains images from the Catalog of American Portraits. Could you find a long lost ancestor here? There’s only one way to find out!

10. U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum – Photo Archives

To aid in your Jewish genealogy research, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum offers searchable photo collections of historic photographs from the Holocaust given by institutions and individuals. These photos document anti-Jewish activities in Europe from 1933 to 1945.

Jewish Family Historical Photo, Free Historical Photo Sites for Finding Your Ancestors, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Photo credit: Yossi Nevo via Wikimedia Commons

Are there other free historical photo websites we should know about? Tell us about them in the comments!

This entry was originally posted by Crestleaf in Family Photos, Family Tree, Genealogy Records, Genealogy Resources,Genealogy Tips and tagged ancestors, family photos, historical photos on July 7, 2015 by Mark S.Like what you read? Subscribe to the Genealogists.com blog above and automatically receive our next article.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Written by


July 16, 2015
Wesley is the founder of hello@traceyourpast.com.

Additional ARTICLES