Photographs and images of various sorts can bring family history books to life. Especially for younger readers growing up in a world of digital images pictures are increasingly important. Technological improvements in both offset and digital printing have made it both easier and cheaper to include photographs in a family history book. Why wouldn’t anyone use photos to illustrate their book? Simple, availability. People often tell us that they don’t have family photos to use in their books.
When that’s the case historical photographs that document the time and place where ancestors lived can fill the void. Images can provide a historical context to help readers get a sense of the ancestors world and the events occurring around them.
Where do you find those historical images? We’ll suggest three resources that will help link you to a variety of collections of photos and images.
1. Wikipedia “Public Domain Image Resources” stored on Wikimedia Common
This site offers “... the largest free images only repository and it contains many public domain images.” It offers links to collections of historical images, books including Project Gutenberg and the Google Library Project, general photo collections and government files. The links connect you to over 3.5 million images.
2. About.com “Historic Photos & Photo Collections”
The site helps you “discover thousands of free historic photos for use in your family history projects in these online collections of digitized historic photos and portraits.”
It contains links to 30 image collections. I have used several including the Library of Congress American Memory Collection, the BYU Historical Photograph Collection, UC Berkeley California Heritage Collection and the San Francisco Public Library’s Photograph Collection. All of them are excellent.
3. University of Houston Digital History
The site offers links to collections with images of topics including: Advertisements, African Americans, Architecture, Art Books and Pamphlet Images Canada, Civil War, Daguerreotypes, Ethnicity, Federal Government Images, Holocaust, Maps, Medicine, Music, Paintings, Photography, New deal, Political History, Portraits, Radicalism, Science and Technology, Slavery, Southwest, States, Trials and Court Cases, World War I, and World War II.
If you are looking for images to illustrate a book it’s likely that one of these sites will guide you to them.