An old proverb states that "the eyes are the windows into the soul." A genealogy corollary is that "a photo is a window into the lives of your ancestors."
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 Idaho 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 June, 2020; recently added links are in BOLD)
- Albertsons Library Digital Collections
- Archives West Photo Collections
- Bannock County Images
- Boise State University Photo Collections
- Boise Territorial Images 1863-1890
- Boundary County Photo Gallery Index
- BYU Idaho Photo Collections
- Canyon County Photo Index
- Celebrate Idaho Photo Collections
- Downey History Photo Gallery
- Eagle Historical Museum - Eagle
- Fort Hall Reservation Photo Collection
- Franklin County Images
- Gem County Historical Photos
- Gem County Photo Albums
- Hailey Photo Archive
- Historic Pocatello Photos
- Historical Photos of Sandpoint
- History of Shelley in Pictures
- Idaho, DP.LA Photos
- Idaho - Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives
- Idaho 1900's Photos
- Idaho Ancient Faces
- Idaho County Photo Albums
- Idaho Dead Fred
- Idaho Digital Resources - several photo sub-collections
- Idaho Historic Photos
- Idaho Historical Photos 1900's
- Idaho Old Family Photos
- Idaho Penny Postcards
- Idaho Potato Commission Historical Photos
- Idaho Springs Photo Gallery
- Idaho State Archives Photo Collections
- Idaho State Historical Society Digital Collections
- Idaho State Historical Society Galleries
- Idaho State University Special Collections
- Idaho Transportation Photo Collection
- Ketchum Historical Photographs
- Lewiston Historical Photographs
- Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
- Moscow-Pullman Daily News Photographs
- Museum of North Idaho Photos and Archives
- Museum of the Rockies Photo Archive Online
- National Archives - Digital Photograph Collections
- North Idaho College Historical Photographs
- Rexburg Historic Photos
- Smithsonian Images
- Snake River Valley Histories
- Southeast Idaho Yesteryear Photos
- The Community Library Historical Photographs
- Twin Falls Public Library Bisbee Photographic Collection
- University of Idaho Campus Photograph Collection
- University of Idaho Digital Initiatives
- Valley County Historical Photos
- Vintage Idaho Pictures
For historical photos from other states as well as articles about photo research, please visit the Photos page.
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!
For other Free Idaho Links, click on the category of interest: