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 Delaware, 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)
- A Photographic View of Delaware in the 1890's
- Board of Agriculture Glass Negative Collection
- Board of Education Photograph Collection
- Civil War Soldiers Portraits
- Delaware Ancient Faces
- Delaware Dead Fred
- Delaware Department of Transportation Historic Photo Galleries
- Delaware Heritage Collection
- Delaware Historical Society Flickr Album
- Delaware Historical Society Photo Collections
- Delaware in World War II
- Delaware Old Family Photos
- Delaware Old Photos
- Delaware Penny Postcards
- Delaware Post Card Collection
- Delaware Public Archives Photograph Collections
- Delaware Public Archives Photograph Exhibits
- Delaware State Fair Photo Archives
- Delaware State University Archives and Special Collections
- Delaware, DP.LA Photos
- Delaware, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives
- Delaware's Past Photos
- Delaware's Role in World War II
- Dover AFB The Early Years
- Dover Photos
- Dover Postcards
- Fort Delaware, Fort DuPont, and Fort Mott Glass Negative Collection
- Frank R. Zebley Collection, Along the Brandywine Photograph Collection
- Frank R. Zebley Collection, Churches of Delaware Photograph Collection
- Hagley Museum and Library Photo Collections
- Historic Lewes Photo Collections
- Historic Odessa Photos
- Historical and Cultural Affairs Photograph Collection
- Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
- Milford Museum Online Exhibits
- National Archives - Digital Photograph Collections
- Old Wilmington
- Project Delaware
- Smithsonian Images
- Sussex County Online Photo Archives
- Sussex County Photo Collection
- University of Delaware Digital Collections
- Wilmington East Side Historic Photos
- Winterthur Library Digital Collections
- Woodside Glass Negative Collection
For historical photos from other states as well as articles about photo research, please visit the Photos page.
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!