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 South Carolina, 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 May, 2019; recently added links are in BOLD)
- Anderson County Museum - Anderson
- Central-Clemson Area Historical Photos
- Charleston Civil War Photos
- Charleston Museum Photograph Collection
- Clemson University Historical Images
- Clemson University Vintage Photos
- Columbia Local History Photographs
- Columbia Historical Photographs
- Easley Area Historic Photos
- Elon University Photograph Collection
- Elon University Portrait Collection
- Furman University Digital Collections
- Georgetown County Digital Library Photo Collections
- Greenville County Images
- Greenwood County Library System Photo Collections
- Historic Charleston Foundation - Charleston
- Historic Photos of Charleston
- Historic Charleston Images
- Horry County Historical Society Photograph Collection
- Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
- Lowcountry Digital Library - Images - a large collection
- National Archives - Digital Photograph Collections
- Pickens Area Photographs
- Pickens County Library System Historical Photo Collection
- Richland Library Photograph Collections
- Saluda County Historic Photos
- SCIWAY Collections
- Smithsonian Images
- South Carolina Ancient Faces
- South Carolina Dead Fred
- South Carolina Digital Library - Images - a large collection
- South Carolina Penny Postcards
- South Carolina Picture Project
- South Carolina Railroad Photograph Collection
- Spartanburg County Public Library Historical Digital Collections
- Spartanburg County Photos
- Spartanburg Digital Photos
- Sumter County Photos
- Standard Federal (Columbia) Photo Collection
- University of South Carolina Photos and Images Collections
- Vintage Clemson Photos
- Vintage Photos of Myrtle Beach
- York County Photograph Database
For historic photos from other states as well as articles about photo research, please visit the Photos page.
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!