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 Arizona, 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, 2019; recently added links are in BOLD)
- Apache County Digital History
- Arizona Ancient Faces
- Arizona Dead Fred
- Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources Photo Archive
- Arizona Historical Society Photos
- Arizona Memory Project
- Arizona Old Family Photos
- Arizona Penny Postcards
- Arizona State Archives Historic Photographs
- Arizona, Southwestern and Borderlands Photograph Collection
- ASU Online Collections
- Bisbee Museum Photo Archive
- Desert Caballeros Western Museum - Wickenburg
- Greater Arizona Collection, Photographs
- Greenlee County Photo Albums
- Heard Museum Digital Resources
- Heard Museum General Photo Archives Collection
- Henry F. Hauser Museum - Sierra Vista
- Historic Phoenix Photos
- Historic Pima County & Tucson
- Historic Tucson
- Historical Arizona Photos
- Hopi Cultural Preservation Office Photos
- Japanese American Relocation Camps in Arizona Images
- Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
- McCulloch Brothers Arizona Photographs, 1884-1947
- Mexican Heritage Project Photos
- Mohave Museum of History and Arts Photo Collection
- Mountain West Digital Library, Arizona Photos
- National Archives - Digital Photograph Collections
- Navajo County Photo Albums
- Navajo Nation Museum Photos
- Northern Arizona University Digital Collections
- Phoenix - McCulloch Brothers Inc. Photographs, 1884-1947
- Phoenix Indian School Historic Photographs
- Ranching Collection Photos
- Scottsdale History Society Collection
- Sierra Vista Historical Society Photo Gallery
- Smithsonian Images
- Sun Cities Area Historical Society - Sun City
- Tempe History Museum Online Photos
- This Day in Arizona History Photos
- Tubac Historical Society - Tubac
- University of Arizona Digital Collections
- University of Arizona Photograph Collection
- University of Arizona Poetry Center LaVerne Harrell Clark Poets Photographic Portrait Collection
- Vintage Arizona
- Vintage Arizona Postcards
- Yuma Area Historical Photographs
- Yuma Historic Photos
For historical photos from other states as well as articles about photo research, please visit the Photos page.
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!