See Britain through the eyes of your ancestors
UK’s largest collection of historical local photographs now available to search on Findmypast
- Over 300,000 historical photographs available to search online at Findmypast for the first time in partnership with The Francis Frith Collection
- Covering all corners of the UK and beyond, this vast new Findmypast resource enables family historians to add colour and context to their ancestor’s stories, witnessing sights and scenes of daily life from up to 150 years ago
- Spanning 1860 to 1970, the Francis Frith collection provides a valuable photographic record of British life, chronicling over 100 years of dramatic change in vivid detail
Family history website Findmypast, has just added over 300,000 historical photographs chronicling more than a century of British life to its vast archive of family history records.
Published in partnership with the UK’s leading publisher of local photographs since 1860, Francis Frith, and available to search online at Findmypast for the first time, Findmypast’s Francis Frith collection forms a valuable photographic record of daily life in Victorian, Edwardian and 20th century Britain.
Spanning two centuries (1860 to 1970) and covering more than 9,000 cities, towns and villages across the UK, the collection provides both family historians and history enthusiasts alike with the opportunity to come face to face with their ancestors or step back in time to witness sights and scenes from the nation’s past.
Available to search by date, location and keyword, this visually rich resource captures thousands of individual streets, landmarks, landscapes, businesses, buildings and locations that would have played a defining role in people’s lives. Each search result also details the image’s date, original description and location, including the latitude and longitude allowing for easy identification on Google maps.
Also included are images of individuals, families, significant national and local events ranging from Royal Jubilees to village fetes, as well a wide variety of images captured overseas.
The collection not only documents the changing face of locations across the British Isles, it also portrays a diverse array of localities across the world that shaped the destiny of people’s ancestors. This includes a wide array of fascinating images from Egypt, Canada, France, Germany Gibraltar, Hawaii, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, and the United States.
The story of Francis Frith
Born into a Quaker family in 1822 in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, Francis Frith was a complex and multi-talented man who had a formidable instinct for business. After becoming a founding member of the Liverpool Photographic Society in 1853 – only 14 years after the invention of photography – he founded his own photographic publishing company in 1860 with the aim of creating accurate and truthful depictions of as many cities, towns and villages as possible.
Copies of Frith’s photographs proved immensely popular with the general public. Thanks to the rapid expansion of the Victorian railway system, Britons were now travelling in greater numbers than ever before, fuelling a huge demand for photographic souvenirs.
To help meet this demand, Frith employed a team of company photographers who were trained to capture images of the highest quality according to his strict specifications.
By the 1870s, the market for Frith & Co’s products was huge, especially after Bank Holidays and half-day Saturdays were made obligatory by Act of Parliament in 1871. By 1890 Frith had succeeded in creating the first and greatest specialist photographic publishing company in the world, with over 2,000 retail stockists.
Exploring the past online
Now, more than 150 years since Francis Frith produced his first photographic souvenirs, Findmypast users can access this encyclopaedic visual journal of British life from the comfort of home.
While written records are essential for uncovering forgotten family stories, finding a photograph of an ancestor or a defining aspect of their life adds a visual richness that can completely transform our understanding of life in bygone eras.
Photographs not only open windows to the world in which our ancestors lived, they also give the past a human face, enabling for deeper connections with those who came before and a greater appreciation of the stories they left behind.
By combining Francis Frith’s remarkable images with Findmypast’s unrivalled collections of British and Irish records, family historians around the world can add colour and context to their ancestor’s stories, gaining vivid new insights into their daily lives.
Whether it be the streets they once walked, the school they attended, a business they worked at or a view they enjoyed, there is no better way to bring that past to life than seeing it through the eyes of an ancestor. As well as searching and discovering these images, users can upload them to their Findmypast family tree to add another dimension to their family history research.
Paul Nixon, head of UK data licensing at Findmypast said; One of the many joys of the Francis Frith collection is seeing how our villages, towns and cities have evolved over time. I was amazed to see that the busy road close to where I live was little more than a muddy track less than a hundred years ago. Seeing these images adds real context to the lives our ancestors lived.
“Francis Frith’s legacy to us is a national photographic archive without equal”, says John Buck, MD of The Francis Frith Collection. “It is a remarkable and unique photographic record of Britain over 110 years of change that is also a wonderful resource for local and social historians as well as genealogists or anyone compiling their family history. The Frith images also make a great talking point for young and old, as many older people love looking at our images online and sharing their memories of these places with the younger generation. During his lifetime Francis Frith himself had a steadfast belief in making photographs available to the greatest number of people, and we are delighted that the wonderful selection of nostalgic historical photographs in The Francis Frith Collection will now be seen and enjoyed by people all over the world on Find My Past.”