Getting Started

Researching Photos and Images

If you're looking for historic photography or images of Kingston or Frontenac County, the resources linked below are a great place to start. Online images can also be found in the collections of other libraries and archives, such as the following examples from Toronto Public Library, like those listed on our Historical Images of Kingston page.

A Few Rules of Thumb for Using Images Online

If you want to share a link to an image, you don’t have to ask permission.  You may email a URL to someone, or publish it in a blog, website or document. Others can look up the link on their own computers to see the image. However, if you want to copy an image into your own document, blog or webpage, you must make sure you have the right to share it.  There are a few ways to do this.

  • You can look for a public domain or copyright free image (see the links, below).
  • You can look for an image with a Creative Commons licence attached to it. This usually takes the form of a small icon that features the letters CC. Click the icon to read the terms of use. Don’t worry!  The terms are short and easy to understand. To see an example, click here.
  • In many cases, you can share an image from a library, archive or other institution, as long as you follow their rules. Sometimes this means that you must use a specially-worded credit line, or abide by other conditions. Look for a phrase like copyright statement, conditions of use, terms of use, etc., and click to read the rules.
  • If you can’t find such a statement, contact the owner of the website or the person who posted the photo, and ask three questions:
    • May I use your photo in my blog/website/document?
    • If so, what credit line would you like me to use?
    • Can you tell me where you got the photo?
  • Most people are happy to grant permission, especially if you offer to link back to their blog or website from your own.  However, unless the person says, “I took the photo myself,” you must keep searching for the original source. Even if the person assures you that it’s fine to reproduce the image, keep going until you find the library, archive, creator or publisher from which the picture originated, and ask the three questions again.
  • Still stuck? Try this neat trick. Drag a picture into the Google Image search box.  Google will show you a list of blogs and websites in which that picture appears. This may help you to find the library, archive or database from which an image originated.  (Keep in mind that this tool can work both ways: copyright owners can also use it to find blogs or websites that are using their images without permission!)



Canadian Illustrated News, 1869-1883

Images from this Library and Archives Canada collection "are in the public domain and may be reproduced without asking for permission or paying a copyright royalty."

City of Toronto Archives

Type your search term into the box, click the Scanned Photographs Only box, and choose an image.

McCord Museum – Our People Our Stories

Queen's University Archives - Image Database

The image databases contain a large collection of pictures from Kingston and Frontenac County, some of which are digitized and available online.


British Pathé

Did your ancestor work in an Ontario salt mine? Did he or she emigrate to Canada after World War II? Among the 90,000 news reels in the British Pathé database you will find fascinating glimpses of life and events from 1890 to the present. 

Browse for fun, or click Advanced Search to search by subject and/or date range. While some of the footage is for sale, many clips can be viewed (or previewed) for free. Prepare to spend lots of time browsing this interesting site.

Public domain image resources

Wikipedia provides its contributers with a huge list of sources for public domain images. Check it out! 

Note: not every item in those lists is copyright-free, so be sure to look at the terms of use for the specific image you wish to use.

Vintage Kingston

If you haven’t yet discovered this new phenomenon, you’ll want to check it out: irresistible vintage photos and memorabilia from Kingston and Frontenac County. The pictures are contributed by members of the public, many of them from their personal photo albums and collections. As a result, you will find many pictures that can’t be seen anywhere else.

The copyright and terms of use will vary from picture to picture, so be sure to follow the Rules of Thumb listed above.