A Wealth of Photographic Archives Online and Where to Find Them

To engage the public with their photography collections, institutions around the world are digitizing archives of famous photographers, historical events, and more. These online archives are wonderful resources, but where can you find them? Our editors have compiled a list of digitized archives containing a range of photographs from the history of Russia to 19th-century black women activists to the Apollo space missions and more.

William Henry Fox Talbot, "View of the Boulevards at Paris" from the William Henry Fox Talbot archive at Oxford University.

William Henry Fox Talbot Catalogue Raisonné at University of Oxford
The Bodlean Libraries at the University of Oxford have digitized their William Henry Fox Talbot collection. One of the earliest inventors of photography, his archive includes 25,000 surviving prints and negatives and 4,500 related materials. Every photograph is annotated with references to Talbot’s notebooks, letters, and other resources. View archive.

Minor White, “San Francisco” (1949), from The Minor White Archive, Princeton University Art Museum, bequest of Minor White (all photos © Trustees of Princeton University)

Minor White’s Photographs at Princeton University Art Museum
When Minor White passed away in 1976, the American photographer and founding editor of Aperture magazine left his archives to Princeton University. Over 6,000 prints and proof cards are currently available online. When completed, the website will contain over 26,000 objects including negatives, unfinished photographs, exhibition notes, and the artist’s writings. View archive.

Annemarie Heinrich, "A Buenos Aires zookeeper with penguins" (via Estudio Heinrich Sanguinetti/British Library Endangered Archives)

Annemarie Heinrich’s Early 20th-Century Argentina Photographs at the British Library
From the 1930s to 50s, German-born photographer Annemarie Heinrich documented her adopted country of Argentina. To preserve her archives, the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme digitized her photographs online under a Creative Commons license. The project is called “A modern gaze on old cultural practices in Argentina: relocation and preservation of the ‘Heinrich Sanguinetti Archive (1930-1956).” View archive.

Artist Talks at the Maryland Institute College of Art
The Decker Library at the Maryland Institute College of Art contains over 700 audiocassette tapes including artist lectures from the 1960s to the 1990s. Over 80 of these recordings have been digitized and are available through their online archive, including lectures by artists like photographer Gordon Parks, painter Ad Reinhardt, poet Allen Gingsberg, and others. View archive.

Scene from the St. Petersburg School of the Deaf by an unknown photographer (1908) (photo courtesy Russian State Library)

The History of Russia at Moscow’s Multimedia Art Museum
Yandex, Russia’s largest search engine, and the Multimedia Art Museum have joined forces to create an online photo bank of 150 years of photographs from more than 40 institutes including museums and public archives as well as personal collections from Russian residents. Over 80,000 photographs are included and more are being added regularly. View archive.

Unknown photographer. (courtesy of The Rescued Film Project)

The Rescued Film Project
The Rescued Film Project processes long-lost rolls of film shot between the 1930s and the late 1990s, archiving the images in an online gallery. Publishing the results online, the project is creating an archive of daily life in a digital format. View archive.

Educator and activist Elizabeth Brooks posing with singer and activist Emma Hackley (in spectacles) in five different portraits (1885) (courtesy William Henry Richards Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

19th-Century Black Women Activists at The Library of Congress
The archive includes cabinet cards and tintypes of African American women who worked to achieve equality in suffrage, temperance, educations, jobs, and many other aspects of life. The photographs are primarily from a post-Civil War period when rights for African Americans, particularly African American women, were limited. Many of the photographs come from the collection of William Henry Richards, an activist for civil liberties for African Americans. View archive.

Vice President Cheney with Senior Staff in the President’s Emergency Operations Center (PEOC)

Photographs from the Aftermath of the 9/11 Attacks at U.S. National Archives’ Flickr Gallery
Dick Cheney’s staff photographer’s 356 images depicting the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and President Bush, Dick Cheney, and other officials in the Emergency Operation Center bunker, are available on the U.S. National Archives’ Flickr gallery. The photographs were released in response to the Freedom of Information Act request filed by PBS’ Frontline. View archive.

Apollo 14 Hasselblad image (1971)

The Apollo Archive
The Project Apollo Archive includes over 11,000 photographs made by the Apollo astronauts in the 1960s and ‘70s. Using Hasselblad cameras, the astronauts documented the NASA missions in black and white and color film. The project is the work of archivist Kipp Teague and is available on Flickr. View archive.

S. J. Johnston, “The Mall” in Central Park (1894) (via Thomas Warren Sears photograph collection, Archives of American Gardens)

Thomas W. Sears Archives of American Gardens at Smithsonian Gardens
The Thomas W. Sears Collection includes over 4,600 glass negatives and glass lantern slides from 1900 to 1966 documenting gardens both private and public in the United States and Europe. View archive.

Julia Margaret Cameron, “Four young women holding flowers” (1868) (used under CC BY 4.0 license)

Europeana Photography
This database contains over two million historical images from museums and photographic archives in over 43 countries. The project is led by the Photoconsortium, the International Consortium for Photographic Heritage. View archive.

Lewis W. Hine, “Women Exercising, Swim” (ca. 1918‑1935), from the series (ARC/USA Misc) (George Eastman Museum, gift of the Photo League Lewis Hine Memorial Committee)

George Eastman Museum
Over 250,000 objects from the George Eastman Museum are searchable through their online platform. The archive is comprised of thousands of photographs from over 8,000 photographers, as well as artifacts chronicling the history of photography. View archive.

Installation view of the exhibition ‘Photography Until Now,’ on view February 18, 1990 through May 29, 1990 at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (photo by Mali Olatunji © The Museum of Modern Art, New York, all images courtesy The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York)

Museum of Modern Art’s Archives for 3,500 Exhibitions
The Museum of Modern Art has created a digital archive that presents a comprehensive look at all of the institution’s exhibitions from its founding in 1929 to the present day. The extensive database includes installation photographs, press releases, annotated image checklists, catalogues, and more. View archive.

©Martin Munkacsi, Kinder in einem Feriendorf, 1929. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s digital archive contains over 400,000 hi-resolution digital images that are available for download for non-commercial purposes. View archive.