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 Virginia 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)
- Adolph B. Rice Photograph Collection, Richmond 1949-1961
- Afro American Historical Association - The Plains
- Alexandria Library Photographs Collection
- American Civil War Museum - Richmond
- Arlington Center for Local History
- Bent Mountain Collection
- Bridgewater College - Special Collections - Bridgewater
- Central Rappahannock Heritage Center - Fredericksburg
- City of Hampton Historical Collection Photographs
- Clarke County Historical Association - Berryville
- Fairfax County Public Library Historical Photographs
- Fauquier County Parks & Recreation - Warrenton
- George Mason University Photographic Collections
- Hamblin Studio Photograph Collection, Suffolk Public Library, 1910-1975
- Hampton History Museum - Hampton
- Hampton Roads Heritage Project
- Handley Regional Library Photo Collection
- Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society - Dayton
- Historic Richmond
- Historical Society of Western Virginia - Roanoke
- James Madison University Historic Photos
- Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
- Library of Virginia Photos
- Loudoun Museum - Leesburg
- National Archives - Digital Photograph Collections
- Newport News Public Library Photograph Collection
- Norfolk Historic Photos Collection
- Old Dominion University Archives
- Portsmouth Public Library Photograph Collection
- Radford Public Library Photograph Collection
- Reston Museum - Reston
- Roanoke County Public Library Local History Photographs
- Salem Museum - Salem
- Smithsonian Images
- Spotsylvania County Museum - Spotsylvania
- Tazewell County Public Library Photographs
- University of Mary Washington Image Collection
- University of Virginia Visual History Collection
- VCU Digital Archives
- Virginia Beach Archives
- Virginia Heritage
- Virginia Historic Inventory
- Virginia Historical Society Photograph Collection
- Virginia Memory
- Virginia Museum of History and Culture
- Virginia Tech Imagebase
- Visual History of Lynchburg
- VMI Archives
- Waynesboro Public Library Photographs
For historic photos from other states as well as articles about photo research, please visit the Photos page.
Good luck and Happy Hunting!