Illustrate Your Family History

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The writing of family history stories can be greatly enhanced by the inclusion of photographs and illustrations. Often we do not have photographs of our ancestors or the events in their lives, but this does not necessarily mean that we can not bring the story to life with pictures. There are many resources available to find appropriate images to illustrate your family history.

General Online Image Collections

WikiMedia Commons--A collection over 10 Million freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute. These images are shared under a creative commons license and so can be utilized for family histories. Take a look at the license agreement. collection of user contributed images shared under a variety of licenses. Check the license agreement for each image. You can search for those images shared under a creative commons license in the advanced search. Additionally, Flickr is working with many institutions to preserve old photographs and make them available online in the Flickr Commons.

Google Images--This is a large collection of images, many of which are copyrighted, so pay attention to the restrictions.

Digitized Photograph Collections

These collections can often be found at public, university and specialty libraries and archives. Many of these institutions are digitizing and making these collections available to the public online. You need to be careful to read their conditions of use information. If you do not find your location listed, check with the libraries and archives in your area of interest.


Library of Congress Online Prints and Photographs

New York

New York Public Library--Digital Gallery


J. Willard Marriot Library, University of Utah--Digital Collections

Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University--Digital Collections

Online Lists of Other Digital Image Collections

Archives Library Information Center--Digital Photography

Digital Collections Registry