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 North Dakota 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)
- Bismarck Mandan Historical Pictures
- Dickey County Photo Gallery
- Dickinson Museum Center Photo Collections
- Digital Horizons
- Emmons County Photographs
- Fargo Public Library Photos
- Grand Forks History Photos
- Granville Historical Photos
- Historical Society Photo Albums
- Images from the NDSU Institute for Regional Studies
- LaMoure County Historic Photos
- Lamoure County Photographs
- Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
- Mandan Historical Society Photo Collections
- Mayville Historical Photos
- Museum of the Rockies Photo Archive Online
- National Archives - Digital Photograph Collections
- North Dakota Ancient Faces
- North Dakota Dead Fred
- North Dakota History Photos
- North Dakota Old Family Photos
- North Dakota Penny Postcards
- North Dakota State University Archives
- North Dakota State University Digital Horizons
- North Dakota State University Germans from Russia Photograph Collections
- North Dakota History Photos
- North Dakota, DP.LA Photos
- North Dakota, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives
- Old Photos North Dakota
- Sioux County Historical Photos
- Smithsonian Images
- Southwestern North Dakota Digital Photo Archive
- State Historical Society of North Dakota Flickr Photo Albums
- State Historical Society Photographic Collections
- Theodore Roosevelt Center Photographs
- University of North Dakota Photograph Collection
- Washburn Historical Photos
For historical photos from other states as well as articles about photo research, please visit the Photos page.
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!