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 Utah 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)
- Bingham Canyon (Utah) Photographs, 1923-1978
- BYU Collections
- BYU Historical Photographs
- Capitol Commission Photographs, 1909-1917
- Carbon County Photo Collections
- Daughters of Utah Pioneers Photo Index
- Delta City Library Photograph Collection
- Dixie State College Photo Collections
- Emery County Photo Archives
- Fort Douglas Museum Photos
- Great Basin Association Photographs
- Historical Photographs of Castle Gate
- Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
- Logan Historic Photo Collection
- Mountain West Digital Library
- National Archives - Digital Photograph Collections
- Orem Historical Photographs
- Park City Historical Photo Galleries
- Provo Historical Photos
- Retro Utah Photos
- Salem Historic Photos
- Salem History Photos
- Salt Lake City Fire Department Photographs, 1885-1901
- Salt Lake Community College Digital Collections
- Salt Lake Tribune Archives Historic Photos
- Salt Lake Tribune Negative Collection
- San Juan County Historical Society - Monticello
- Scofield Photographs
- Smithsonian Images
- Southern Utah University Digital Library
- Uintah County Library Photographs
- Uintah County Photo Collections
- University of Utah University Archival Photographs
- University of Utah Digital Collections
- Utah American Indian Digital Archive
- Utah Ancient Faces
- Utah Dead Fred
- Utah Division of State History Photo Collections
- Utah History Encyclopedia
- Utah Multimedia Archives Photographs
- Utah Old Family Photos
- Utah Penny Postcards
- Utah State History Digital Photos
- Utah State University Historical Photo Collection
- Utah Valley University Photo Collections
- Utah Vintage Postcards
- Utah, DP.LA Photos
- Utah, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives
- UtahRails Photo Collections
- Vintage Salt Lake City Photos
- Washington County Photo Collections
- Washington County Postcards
- Weber State Digital Collections
- Westminster College Photographs
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 Utah Links, click on the category of interest: