I have been curious if there are any specific Historical Genealogical Photo Request Specific Forums / Communities out there that anyone knows about?

I am aware of the primary one for Find-a-Grave in which people request photos of gravestones and such, as well as one for ships which is of use for seeing what people immigrated on. I also know Genealogy.com also seems to have one but it seems to be very ill-frequented and not a lot of success.

My thought process is the following and why I ask: While searching Newspapers.com I came across several articles mentioning my relatives (some of which I have no photos of) and in some cases sketches, photos, or just physical descriptions of them. Specific examples are sporting events that someone may have taken photographs at or even a better example several members of my family have been in the clergy and conducted funerals and weddings, which at least for the later it is common for photos of the bride and groom to be photographed with the officiate of the ceremony.

I know in some cases I can contact local historical societies for sporting and community events, but they wouldn't likely have some of the more obscure events or large scale events where people are not identified (i.e. I'd have to find them in the crowd) as well as which someone might have remembered they photographed and have sitting in a box somewhere or on their computer (I for example have thousands of original photos in my possession).

I know there are stock photo agencies and the National Archives that are searchable which I have very limited success for historical specific historical photos for genealogical purposes, and have in some cases been successful searching Google Image Search and trolling Flickr for old family photos people have posted; none of these though facilitate a 'request' system for "Does anyone have a photograph from or of...".

The question: Where is a large enough and active community one can request a photo of a historical event or person and might within a reasonable time (a year or two) have a reasonable chance of getting a response from the community's users if well refined enough but not too specific of a request?

  • 2
    +1 Personally, I would be quite happy to see some questions posted here along the lines of "my ancestor was ... who lived in ... from ... to ... with an occupation of ... and interests that included ... and I think there must have been photos taken of him/her but have not been able to locate one. This is where I have looked ... where else could I try looking?"
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 0:23
  • The question in my comment above is answerable i.e. by suggesting additions to the current research plan, but also leaves the Q&A behind to be found later by someone who may be researching the same individual or their family and happen to have a shoebox or album of photos to look through.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 0:25
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    @PolyGeo I was thinking about that but when I started thinking about it you get into "is there a correct answer" as well as people could be posting requests of living people which could be difficult to moderate or it could take over the forum.
    – CRSouser
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 0:26
  • I think our 100 year clause at genealogy.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic should take care of the living people concern (with community vigilance). We actually try to attract an average of >2.5 answers for questions so I think we should experiment with a few such questions while we are still in Beta to decide whether they and the answers they attract are good/bad for the site.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 0:33
  • 1
    @PolyGeo I posted a question in in a META post to flush this out and I can post some of my specific ones as individual questions to assist as well.
    – CRSouser
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 4:50

3 Answers 3


What about RAOGK (Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness)? Their website is under redevelopment at the moment RAOGK link. There is also a Facebook group at Facebook Group link. This type of thing is what these groups were set up for. I have had some success with them in the past.


Let's look at this a little sideways:

What resources would include historic photos of particular people or events or things?

  • newspapers, magazines and other periodicals
  • yearbooks and directories
  • historic postcards
  • photo archives, public (like NARA) or private
  • professional photographers & media companies that have stock photos (usually purchased from the pros)
  • individuals (likely family members of the photo subjects, but often undigitized and uncatalogued)

Which of these would be monitoring a generic photo request site? Probably none of them.

What sites would be more successful at providing access to these photos? Sites geared toward that kind of resource.

The advantage of photo requests at Find-a-Grave is that there is a specific location that can be accessed and a new photo taken.

Historic photographs of particular people or events, if even taken and still existing, would need to be hunted down. That is best done by looking at where that photo subject type would be published or archived or available for viewing or purchase (including eBay). Publishers may have additional photos associated with a particular article that were not published. Privately held photos might be included on family tree sites or offered in personal correspondence.


The only service I am aware of is The War Graves Photographic Project (TWGPP). They state:

The original aim of The War Graves Photographic Project was to photograph every war grave, individual memorial, Ministry of Defence grave, and family memorial of serving military personnel from WWI to the present day. However, due to its popularity we have now extended our remit to cover all nationalities and military conflicts and make these available within a searchable database. (…) Please use the search facility to check if a photograph is currently held and available.

If other photos of genealogical interest survived, they are available only to a small group of people, the subjects are often not identified, the works themselves not digitalized – so it is hard to imagine how a service for photos of individuals should work.

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