Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

How can I find USGS historical photographs?

The USGS Photographic Library, located at our library in Denver, Colorado, is an archive of still photographs dating from the 1870s and taken by USGS scientists as part of their field studies.

The works of pioneer photographers W.H. Jackson, T.H. O’Sullivan, Carleton Watkins, J.K. Hillers, Thomas Moran, A.J. Russell, E.O. Beaman, and William Bell are represented in the collection. Topics include USGS personnel, earthquakes, volcanoes, geologic hazards and other phenomena, historical mining operations, and earth science photographs.

Use the online USGS Photographic Library to access digital copies of photographs selected from the collection. Since only a portion of the collection’s 400,000 images are online, researchers are welcome to visit in person to view the collection, or our librarians can check the collection for you. For more information, call 303-236-1010.

A limited number of historical photographs are also in our online Multimedia Gallery and on USGS social media platforms like flickr and Instagram.