Archives often have huge photographic collections, but attaching names to faces can sometimes be impossible. However, more and more collections are going online and some of these records include photographs attached to them.


In the gallery below we reveal ten collections of records that have been digitised and put online. Each of them includes photographs that help tell their story. From the inmates of psychiatric hospitals who were photographed as part of their diagnosis to habitual drunkards photographed to help pubs ban them. These photographs and the records that come with them tell a sad story of lives that have gone astray.

But photographs can also be found in records for merchant seamen, aviators and aliens (the UK was keen to monitor foreign nationals when the First World War broke out).

Find out if your family were photographed and enjoy these haunting faces from the past (click on the diagonal arrows in the top right-hand corner of the gallery to expand the view).


This subscription website has a number of collections that include photographs. Sign up for a 14-day free trial and check out these fascinating records:

Criminals at Swansea Police Station, 1893-1905

Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificates, 1910-1950

Birmingham Pub Blacklist

Police Gazette habitual drunkards

Civil Engineer Photographs, 1829-1923

Licences of Parole for Female Convicts, 1853


Another subscription website that includes a huge collection of Merchant Navy records including the CR10 cards that include a photograph. Sign up for a 14-day free trial and check out these collections:

Britain, Merchant Seamen, 1918-1941

Harrow School Photographs of Pupils and Masters, 1869-1925

The National Archives

Digitised records are currently free to access from The National Archives website at the moment. You need to register first. Find out more here.

Aliens Registration Cards, 1918-1957

Wandsworth Prison, photograph albums, 1872-1873

Wellcome Collection

The Wellcome Trust has been involved in digitising case notes for a number of historic psychiatric hospitals. Records are free to access. Check case notes to find photographs


Psychiatric case notes, Holloway Sanatorium, Egham