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Using Local and Family History Photographs to Tell the Stories of Your Ancestors

Subscription Databases

The following external websites contain primary source materials that include photographs.

The subscription resources marked with a padlock are available to researchers on-site at the Library of Congress. If you are unable to visit the Library, you may be able to access these resources through your local public or academic library.

Always growing, nearly 40 specific record collections on Ancestry are categorized as Pictures External . Ranging from passenger ships, to bridge construction, to baseball players, to communities, to soldiers, to a huge assortment of yearbooks.

Also be mindful of less obvious collections that may include photographs as a part of a document record. For example:

  • Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948 External - The focus of this series is on papers filed related to World War I military service to demonstrate worthiness of compensation under Pennsylvania law. However, each soldier has a folder that may include other relevant documents filed in Pennsylvania. In particular, post-war Pennsylvania newspapers included a form asking soldiers or their families to submit information to compile a roster of all serviceman. If that form was submitted, it appears in this collection. Often included with the form were personal letters or photographs to be added. These are gems hidden throughout this already invaluable set of papers.
  • U.S., Identification Card Files of Prohibition Agents, 1920-1925 External Each card includes the date, agent's name, photograph, residence (city or town), and title. Even if your ancestor was not an agent, you could find the agent who patrolled their community.
  • U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 External To receive a U.S. passport, a person had to submit proof of U.S. citizenship usually in the form of a letter, affidavits of witnesses, and certificates from clerks or notaries. Sometimes these additional documents are included as part of the application as is a photo of the applicant.