Virginia Online Historical Photos Research

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 of 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, the name of a building, or a historical event and find what is available.

For the state of Virginia, 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 constantly be 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 2024)

Virginia Historical Photo Archives

For historic photos from other states and articles about photo research, please visit the Photos page.


For all Free Virginia Collection Links in 24 Genealogy Categories, go to the By Location Page, click on Virginia, and then click on the category of interest.

Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

One reply on “Virginia Online Historical Photos Research”

Searching for info on Wesley Ellis who shot & killed Jesse G Cox on7/15/1900 – the clipping says Wayne Co., WV – but the clipping is too blurry to read – looks like it was taken from The Washington Post, looks like the location says “Huntington, WV”. Can anyone help me with this? Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *