I love old photos, whether they are portraits of my ancestors or historical photos for the period when they lived. And it is important to a complete research that one attempts to understand the environment that surrounds our ancestors' lives if one wants to truly appreciate what they went through.
So where can they be found? Obviously the best resource is our own photo albums and those that our relatives possess. But what about other resources? Many archives, historical societies, libraries and genealogical societies have collections of old photos. And in the past few years there has been a massive movement towards making these historical photo collections available online. Some have search capabilities where you can actually put in a surname or a location, name of a building or historical event and find what is available.
For the state of North Carolina, what collections are available for you to browse and/or search online? Here is a list of sites to start with. Please feel free to add in the comments other online resources that you might be aware of in the state.
Please be aware that there may be very strict rules regarding downloading or other use of the images that you may find. Copyright and other legal protections may be in force. Make sure that you read the limitations of use for any image that you find in these collections and wish to download and/or copy. It is your responsibility to adhere to the rules for all of these collections.
Please note that links to these sites may change in the future. The author (me) will not be constantly checking and updating these links, so if you find a broken link, please use your favorite search engine to locate the new link.
(Updated November, 2018; recently added links are in BOLD)
- Battleship North Carolina - Wilmington
- Buncombe County Photo Collection
- City of Mount Holly - Mount Holly
- City of Raleigh - HRM Program - Raleigh
- Columbus County Photos
- Davidson County Historical Museum - Lexington
- Documenting the American South
- Durham County Library - North Carolina Collection
- Durham Historic Photographic Archives
- East Carolina University Digital Collections
- Edgecombe County Historic Digital Archive
- Fayetteville Photo Collection
- Forsyth County - Digital Forsyth
- Greenville Daily Reflector Image Collection
- High Point Museum & Historical Society - High Point
- Images of North Carolina
- Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
- Mooresville Public Library - Special Collections - Mooresville
- Museum of the Cherokee Indian - Cherokee
- National Archives - Digital Photograph Collections
- NC ECHO
- NC Pedia
- New Hanover County Digital Archives
- North Carolina Civil War Images
- North Carolina Digital Collections
- North Carolina State University Digital Collections
- Outer Banks History Center
- Pamlico County Photographs
- Smithsonian Images
- Stanly County Museum - Albemarle
- State Archives of North Carolina
- Surry County Historical Society - Mount Airy
- The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story
- Tufts Archives (The) - Pinehurst
- University of North Carolina - Asheville Photograph Collections
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Online Resources
- University of North Carolina Greensboro - Online Collections
- Vintage North Carolina Photos
- Western Carolina University Digital Initiatives
- Western North Carolina Heritage
- Wilmington Photo Collection
For historic photos from other states as well as articles about photo research, please visit the Photos page.
Good luck and Happy Hunting!