Have you ever wondered about the places where your ancestor lived? What did their street look like? The church they attended? What was the view as your ancestor went into town or to the market? Thanks to Francis Frith, many of us can now get a glimpse of ancestral towns and cities as they looked back in the day.
Francis Frith began his career in photography taking pictures during his travels in the Middle East, and in 1860, he began selling prints of his photographs. With concern for posterity, he created the Francis Frith Archive and although the original company went out of business in 1970, the archive was sold and Ancestry has partnered with the new owners to make the UK, City, Town and Village Photos, 1857-2005 available on Ancestry.
More than 120,000 images are available, featuring 7,000 villages, towns and cities. The collection is particularly strong for the UK and Ireland, but there are images from other locations around the world as well. Because the collection spans into the 21st century, the images are browsable and searchable using contemporary place names. For example, Liverpool is found in the browse under the contemporary county of Merseyside. That said, a search for it using Liverpool, Lancashire, England (choosing that option from the drop-down options) will recognize the location bring up the images catalogued in Merseyside.
You’ll also run into places where the name has changed. For example, a search for Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, Ireland, returns images for Kingstown, Ireland. Confusing at first until you look at the history and find that Dun Laoghaire was named Kingstown between 1821 and 1920.
The collection includes many street views and churches and terms like ‘street’ or ‘church’ can be used in the keyword to bring up the types of results you’re looking for. But to get a real feel for the places your ancestor lived, browse the locations included. There is much to explore in this rich, new collection.