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 Wisconsin, 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 December, 2018; recently added links are in BOLD)
- Brown County Historic Photos
- Buffalo County Historical Society - Alma
- Circus World Museum - Baraboo
- Clark County Photo Albums
- Clark County Photos
- Douglas County Photos
- Eau Claire Historical Photographs
- Kaukauna Area Photos
- Kenosha County Images
- Kenosha History Center Photographs
- La Crosse County Historical Society - La Crosse
- Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
- Madison Area Photos
- Manitowoc County Historical Society - Manitowoc
- Manitowoc Local History Collection
- Menasha Historic Collection
- Milwaukee Historic Photos
- National Archives - Digital Photograph Collections
- Neenah Historic Photos
- Old Main Historical & Community Arts Center - Galesville
- Old Milwaukee Photos
- Oshkosh Public Museum - Oshkosh
- Recollection Wisconsin
- Sauk City Library Collection
- Sauk County Historic Images
- Sawyer County Photo Album
- Shawano County Photos
- Smithsonian Images
- Trempealeau County Photo Album
- University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee Art Collection - Milwaukee
- University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
- University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives
- University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Photo Collection
- Vintage Wisconsin Photos
- Ward Irish Music Archives - Milwaukee
- Washburn County Photos
- Washington County Historical Society (WI) - West Bend
- Waunakee Historic Photographs
- Waupun Historical Society - Waupun
- Wisconsin Historical Images
- Wisconsin Historical Markers and Photographs
- Wisconsin Historical Society Photographs
- Wisconsin Maritime Museum - Manitowoc
- Wisconsin Veterans Museum - Madison
For historic photos from other states as well as articles about photo research, please visit the Photos page.
Good luck and Happy Hunting!