You may need historical stock photos for documentary projects, a retro blog, or some other purposes. Unfortunately, the sources of such valuable historical material are quite rare and you may experience many problems while trying to find a website with the desired content. So this article will help you find the greatest online hubs with great historical images for all your needs and ideas.
We have selected several excellent stock photography sites that offer a great variety of unique historic images. Some pictures are free, while others require investment. We also recommend you check the copyright info and license type to make sure that you can publish a chosen photo on your website or use it in your project.
Verdict: Vintage Stock Photos is one of the greatest online platforms for finding rare historical photos. The images on this site were sourced, scanned, processed and posted by the specialists who created the website.
They also have the original transparencies for all materials. The greatest thing about this website is that owners are ready to rescan, resize and reprocess photos in case you are not content with the available version.
The images presented here can be used in various commercial projects and presentations. All pictures are categorized into 17 groups, and you can filter them by publish date or popularity.
Verdict: Getty Images is one of the greatest, largest, and most popular websites that offer paid and free historical photos and vintage images. Many people choose this agency as its library includes valuable material from world-famous and exclusive collections (like Hulton Press Library, Retrofile archive or Archive Photos of New York, and many more).
Distributing images under the Rights Managed license, the company maintains a flexible pricing policy. The value on the tags depends on the purpose, the medium, and conditions. So here you may purchase a historical image for several hundred dollars, or even thousands of dollars.
Getty Images also provides you with the option of exclusive media purchase, which is handy if you need photos for some particular purposes. This option is very important for large businesses and brands, especially for those involved in television, print, and radio advertising.
Verdict: Alamy appeals to clients with a stylish website and handy search instruments. The content offered by this company includes historical archives, creative and editorial image materials for personal and business use.
Alamy’s collection includes more than three million historical stock photos. Some of them are from such famous and valuable archives as the Chronicle or World History, Everett Collection Historical, etc. Alamy conducts a clear pricing policy offering pictures that are ready for downloading and usage. The prices range from $19.99 to $199.99 per item.
Verdict: Offering a great collection created on the basis of archives from famous photographers, Shutterstock is one of the most popular local hubs that offer historical stock photos of high quality. Here you may also find great selections from Arts Archive, Kobal, PMC Archival, or BFA collections.
Shutterstock amazes with its extensive collection of more than fifty million images on various topics. The website offers historical sports photos, social events and photojournalistic images, and more. The material is distributed under Editorial license and on demand. You may also purchase a single item or get photos in packs.
Although Shutterstock doesn’t offer free historical images, it allows you to download footage and music. This option is perfect for YouTube-based projects that check your videos for copyrighted backing tracks and footage automatically.
Verdict: Flickr is one of the most famous photo sharing sites. It contains “The Commons” section with free historical images. Here individuals, museums, and other organizations can share their images under a Public Domain license, meaning that this material can be accessed, saved, and used by any person.
Such famous organizations as the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, NASA, the British Library contribute to “The Commons” section where you can find interesting and unique images for your projects. Moreover, Flickr allows searching for pictures from vintage books in the Internet Archive.
Upon your request, Flickr provides you with detailed info about where the image is found: the publication, exact page, and even textual references.
Verdict: Pond5 is a reputable agency that has an extensive collection of outstanding historical stock photos. The company offers a Public Domain license meaning that anyone can look through the files. The content offered by Pond5 covers a century of history, famous landmarks, cities, people, documentary images, and more.
Besides digitized and historic media material, Pond5 provides metadata necessary for finding the desired content in a fast and convenient way. Moreover, the website allows sharing photos on social media networks or the web. In total, Pond5 offers 80,000 pictures that are free and can be used the way you like.
Verdict: Featuring a huge online catalog, Unsplash is a great source of royalty free historical images. All pictures are in high resolution. You can use vintage photos downloaded from this website without the risk and even fear of being persecuted.
This resource is also great for finding a particular image for specific projects. However, Unsplash doesn’t have a separate category of historical images that is why the results of your search may be unpredictable provided you conduct it in the wrong way. To get the exact results, you need to enter multiple keywords.
Verdict: Paris Musées is actually a group of fourteen public museums in Paris. They gathered a special collection with more than 100,000 curated artworks in an electronic format that are distributed under Commons Zero license. It means that anyone can use and download the material offered by this source for free.
Paris Musées interest users with unique images in HD resolution and detailed description of the selected work. You can even learn the best practices for using and citing the sources of the picture.
Verdict: Vintage Med Stock offers a catalog of very specific images. Here you may find vintage medical stock images, monotypes, woodblock prints, and illustrations. The owner of this collection is a photographer and designer Mark Strozier. He offers royalty free vintage photos, as well as media units on demand for $7 (for web) or $59 (for print).
The photos are conveniently organized in 29 categories making the search fast and easy. Vintage Med Stock offers specific material for medicine workers or specialists, who are interested in medicine. Use the “For Web” option, if you are satisfied with low-resolution pictures.
If you need a high-resolution original picture, decide on the "For Print/Video" option. Such photos are great for video, print, poster, and signage projects.
Verdict: New Old Stock is a prominent Tumblr photography blog created by product designer Cole Townsend. Here you can find an extensive selection of more than 1500 vintage and historical stock photos that are monitored by Townsend himself.
New Old Stock offers its users pro image packs with optimized and edited old photos that are great for professional purposes. Most images are available for free but they come with original source limitations and recommendations for applications. Each photo has its own restrictions that depend on the archive it was taken from.