Thousands of Free Historic Photographs Online

Sometimes you can find valuable gems in unexpected places. One example is the UnSplash web site.

According to Wikipedia:

“Unsplash is a website dedicated to sharing stock photography under the Unsplash license. The website claims over 110,000 contributing photographers and generates more than 9 billion photo impressions per month on their growing library of over 810,000 photos.[1] Unsplash has been cited as one of the world’s leading photography websites by Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, CNET, Medium and The Next Web.”

I am amazed at the many photos about all sort of topics that may be found on Best of all, you may download and use the photos for all sorts of purposes free of charge.

For instance, while looking for photos I could use in this genealogy newsletter, I went to and entered a search for “Ellis Island.”

The site then displayed dozens of photos that are related in some way to Ellis Island. Some of them were modern photographs, obviously taken within the past few years. However, intermixed with them were dozens of historic photos that apparently were taken soon after the immigration center opened in 1892 or in the early 20th century. Here is one example:

I had to shrink the above photo in order to make it fit in the web site. You can click on the above photo to view the full-sized version. I suspect you will be pleased with the detailed full-sized photo.

This is but one example of one search on You can find all sorts of topics covered, both historic and for other topics. You probably won’t find photographs of your ancestors although that is theoretically possible. For instance, if you are a descendant of Robert W Knox, you will be very interested in this photo of his World War I identity card:

(Click on the above photo to view a larger version)

Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

Another photo that really interested me is that of a Volkswagen that appears to be identical to one that I owned many years ago. The color and even the roof rack look identical to the one I owned so I saved it in my family photos with a notation that it is not my original VW but what appears to be my Volkswagen’s identical twin.

(Click on the above photo to view a larger version)

I could spend many hours on the web site. In fact, I did just that today!

To quote Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get”. The same is true of Try it. You may be surprised.

One Comment

Interesting collection. I input “Rutherford New Jersey” (home town) – a pix of Met life stadium, beach, high mountains (last 2 not possible in Rutherford!) The many others were not specific to that search. Then New Jersey: views of NY skyline, buildings/people/flowers etc. Search even brought up pix of New Zealand! PIX are beautiful. Site is to be given good marks for the pix. Persons doing subject headings have attempted an almost impossible task & are to be given a lot of credit. Yes, hours can be spent looking, but do not expect to always find your specific search, Mr. Eastman was lucky.


Leave a Reply

Name and email address are required. Your email address will not be published.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <pre> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: