Have You Searched These Genealogy Photo Collections for Your Ancestors?

Are you lucky enough to have a collection of old photographs of your ancestors?

A surprisingly small number of family historians are able to answer “yes” to this question — at least as it concerns ancestors who are more than a couple of generations removed. While most of us are certainly going to gain access to at least some photos held by family members during the course of our research, we are often limited to images of our most direct relations.

But there are photos out there….just waiting to be found. As interest in family history research grows, more and more of these images are appearing online. They might be located on a tiny family website run by a distant cousin or a large public repository with thousands of holdings, but with some searching you might just find a few that fit your family tree.

We’re not saying it will be easy to locate photographs of your ancestors, but the hard work is worth it — an image adds a richness and life to an ancestor’s story like few other genealogical finds can.

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MyHeritage is offering 2 free weeks of access to their extensive collection of 20 billion historical records, as well as their matching technology that instantly connects you with new information about your ancestors. Sign up using the link below to find out what you can uncover about your family.

Below you will find just a few places to locate old family photos and portraits online. Each one of these resources offers a variety of photographs from different sources. Some are fully accessible online and others provide only an index of names. Take some time to look through these collections and see if you can turn up someone in your family.

Google: This is by far the most powerful method for locating family photographs online. By searching the web for such images you will have access to countless family run genealogy sites, historical societies, image repositories and more.

To search Google for such images visit this link to their image search section and type in a name and other identifying information (such as location, date range or terms like “genealogy”) — or simply use the main search function since many photographs can only be found by name (with images stored offline).

Use the helpful tricks in our Google search article to refine your results and increase your odds of turning up a match. You can also find an article about Google image search for genealogy here.


Dead Fred: This large family history photo archive offers more than 100,000 records online and is available free of charge. It is fully searchable by name for those images where the people involved are known, while other photographs are still waiting to be identified.

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Get two full weeks of free access to more than 20 billion genealogy records right now. You’ll also gain access to the MyHeritage discoveries tool that locates information about your ancestors automatically when you upload or create a tree. What will you discover about your family’s past?

FamilySearch Photos: Find your ancestors in FamilySearch’s collection of user submitted family photos. The special search area makes it easy to look through online images, download them to your computer, or even add your own collection to help other researchers.

Faces from the Past: A collection of old family photographs by Marge Rice. Rice has spent years collecting old photos from various sources and reuniting them with the proper family. You can search her collection of names online and connect with her to claim a photo.

Prints and Photographs from the Library of Congress: A large assortment of images of historical interest from the Library of Congress. The various online collections contain a surprising number of photos of everyday Americans — many taken in the early part of the 20th century as part of various government initiatives to document American lives. Some images are only available in the Library itself, but many others can be accessed online.

Cyndi’s List Lost and Found: Cyndi has compiled an excellent collection of links to genealogy photo collections from across the web — many for specific families or locations. Visit the link above to browse through these sites.

Tip: As mentioned, you will greatly increase your likelihood of finding family history photos if you search for them using Google or another search engine since so many are stored on small family sites or in locale focused repositories. Read the articles we linked to above to help you refine your searches and be persistent.

Happy Hunting!

Image: “Family of Adrienne Pagnette: The three standing in front row are Adrienne, Anna and Francis. Adrienne, an adolescent French Illiterate. Speaks almost no English. Is probably 14 or 15. Doffs on top floor spinning room of Glenallen Mill. Anna, said she was 12 years old and helped older sister in Mill. Been at it all summer. She stands next Adrienne. Francis, has regular job doffing (see photo 239[…] [i.e., 2399?]). Says he is 15 but Mr. Hine Doubted it. Family consists of 17 members, 8 or 10 of them in the mill; almost every one of them illiterate. Stooping, reaching and pushing heavy boxes is bad for young girl adolescent. Location: Winchendon, Massachusetts.” 1911. Library of Congress

15 thoughts on “Have You Searched These Genealogy Photo Collections for Your Ancestors?”

  1. What about ‘Related Faces’ the new genealogy tool to compare and identify old photos. Any experience with this site?

  2. Hello Wilma, you’d need to furnish more data, there are a lot of Greenlees persons in the Belfast area –
    the Irish government is very generous and not only can you check the indexes to civil and church records,
    but also the actual certificates / pages concerned for free! What can you say about James, dates and
    places of birth, marriage, death, occupation, wife etc?

    Kind regards, Neil + Shaggy from a wintry locked down South Africa. ([email protected])

  3. Trying to locate official US Navy pictures 1952-1956. Where is the best place to start looking?

  4. Wilma Allred Adams

    Looking for more information of the James Greenlees in Ireland. He would be my g-g-g- grandfather.

  5. Facebook has different groups for locating old photos and family related items to relatives of the person in the photos. There is the group Genealogy Lost and Found and Find These Antique Photos.

  6. Tarle was my maiden name. Jack was my father. His mother and my grandmother was Julia his father was Steven in which was my grandfather I never knew him.

  7. Marcianena L Sessions

    I was wondering if the dna tests go bad is not used. I purchased dna familytree 12/16 and dna-23-ancestry 5/17. Both are unoppened – plan to use them 9/17—are they still good ?

  8. julia maria segovia solano

    me gustaría saber mas sobre la familia Segovia mi abuelo Abelardo Segovia mi abuela Soila Andrade mi padre Julio Maria Segovia Andrade tenia parientes Chiriboga de E spaña un libro de algunos antepasados vigencia de un corregidor por Cesar Andrade Cordero no se mas

  9. trato de ubicar mi familia por parte de padre en italia mi padre se llamaba flavia villanatalia

  10. intento , saber el origen de nuestros ancestros , por parte de mi padre, se que mi abuelo vivio en la nebada paraje cercano a guanguelen pcia de bs as y que trabajo en la estancia de los gahagan el apellido , es moran y su nombre justo fufino agradesco cualquier informacion al respecto sin mas atte jmoran

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