Old Photo Archive – Little GeneaGem, but Growing

Telling our ancestors’ stories within an historical time frame is important, as it helps us understand their lives in the appropriate social context.

There is a saying that “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and photos help us actually “see” the lives of our ancestors.

Old Photo Archive is a website that flourishes because of the generosity of volunteers who upload historical photographs.

While it isn’t likely that you will find an actual family member in any of these pictures, I think everyone will connect with many images that bring back stories of ancestors’ lives.

Here is a pretty nice farm house in Rockcastle County, Kentucky in 1916:


Kentucky in 1916

Here is a view of the Passaic Falls, that helped power the industrial mills that brought my family to the United States in the 1880s.


Passaic Falls, c1900

The Old Photos Archive is searchable by MAP or by COLLECTION or by PEOPLE, YEARS, PLACES and SUBJECTS. The pictures range from suffragettes to cars, sports, churches, Black history, occupations, child workers, holidays and weather. There’s a little something for everyone and it’s a lot of fun just browsing through all the images.

I couldn’t find any information about copyrights, but it looks like most of the images are from historical societies, state archives and the Library of Congress and are in the public domain. The search by years ranges from 1837 to 1980. Even the more modern photos posted by volunteers don’t have any posted publishing restrictions.

This is the kind of site that one needs to revisit from time to time, as new old photos are being added daily. I’d call this a quiet little GeneaGem!

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