Archives for Photos

You might not have thought you could find photos of family members in a state’s, or county’s archives but it is possible. First, see what archives for a state, region or county are available. Whenever visiting any size archive (this includes Museums), always ask about their Photograph Collection. The archivist may first give you an index to look through. If you see something of interest, tell the archivist or make a written request that those particular photographs be pulled and brought to you.

When the archivist brings the photographs, do not be surprised if you are asked to wear gloves to handle them. The oils and dirt on hands can damage photographs if handled without gloves. Even though the photographs maybe contained in archival sleeves, gloves may still be required. Now that was the labeled photos. 

Do ask about any “Unidentified Photographs” in their collection. Even if you only have a rough idea of what a family branch or ancestor looked like take time to search through the unidentified photographs to see if you can identify any of the photographs. Look at the background, maybe there is a storefront, a house, a business associated with your family … big clue there. It is amazing how many unidentified photographs are given to archives for safe keeping.

Start with family hometowns, see where photos donated are kept (city hall, a museum, a genealogy society, etc) and take the time to go through those images. It could be a great treasure.

Photos: Various archives.

Related blogs:

Digital State Archives

Plymouth Archive

National Archives

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