12 Good Places to Find Historical Images to Spark Inquiry

Historical photographs, paintings, sketches, and maps can inspire all kinds of history questions. That is why for more than a decade I’ve used and recommended images from Today’s Document from the National Archives to prompt classroom discussion as the introduction to U.S. and World History lessons. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other similar galleries on the web today. A list of some of my favorites is included below. Not only are historic photographs, paintings, sketches, and maps useful as discussion starters in a classroom, they’re also useful in prompting fun research questions. An example I shared a few weeks ago is found in asking, what kind of car was Harry Lyon sitting in in this photograph? A modern picture can also be useful to inspire research questions. Case in point, I often use the following picture with the following prompt, “which former Vice President of the United States owned this house?”Here are twelve good places to find historical imagery to spark inquiry.DocsTeachWorld Digital LibraryWorld History CommonsFlickr: The CommonsLibrary of Congress: Photos, Prints, and DrawingsLibrary and Archives Canada: Photographs, Maps, Art, and StampsUnsplash for EducationThe Getty Search GatewayThe New York Public Library Digital CollectionsThe British Museum Prints and DrawingsThe Public Domain ReviewMuseum of New Zealand CollectionsThe vast majority of the images that you will find in the collections listed above are public domain or Creative Commons-licensed images. That said, you should always double-check the usage rights before downloading any images from the galleries. 

12 Good Places to Find Historical Images to Spark Inquiry
Historical photographs, paintings, sketches, and maps can inspire all kinds of history questions. That is why for more than a decade I’ve used and recommended images from Today’s Document from the National Archives to prompt classroom discussion as the introduction to U.S. and World History lessons. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other similar galleries on the web today. A list of some of my favorites is included below.

Not only are historic photographs, paintings, sketches, and maps useful as discussion starters in a classroom, they’re also useful in prompting fun research questions. An example I shared a few weeks ago is found in asking, what kind of car was Harry Lyon sitting in in this photograph? A modern picture can also be useful to inspire research questions. Case in point, I often use the following picture with the following prompt, “which former Vice President of the United States owned this house?”
Here are twelve good places to find historical imagery to spark inquiry.
The vast majority of the images that you will find in the collections listed above are public domain or Creative Commons-licensed images. That said, you should always double-check the usage rights before downloading any images from the galleries.