Born in Chesterfield in 1822, pioneering Victorian photographer Francis Frith ran a successful wholesale grocery business which ultimately made him a wealthy man. He took a keen interest in photography, travelling to the Middle East and Palestine in the 1850s and later settling in Reigate, Surrey where he established his company as the world's first specialist publisher of photographs. Within a few years, his images were being sold in thousands of shops throughout the UK. The Francis Frith Collection on Findmypast features over 300,000 photos from this vast archive, the majority of these taken in Great Britain and Ireland.
You can search for records by year, location, country and keyword. Thanks to Francis Frith's own foresight, and subsequent considered curation of the archive over the years, it is possible to quickly document a town, city or village's evolution as captured by the camera lens. Having found your ancestor in documents such as census returns and birth, marriage and death records, it is now possible to quickly view images of the places they would have grown up in.
All records are indexed and, of course, there is a photographic image for each of the 300,000+ records in this collection. Latitude and longitude (LatLon) co-ordinates are also included in the transcription which enables users to further narrow down any given photograph's location.
There is a link back from each record on Findmypast to the same record on the main Francis Frith website, and options to buy high quality prints and other items.
Having identified your ancestors' place of residence locations in census returns on Findmypast, use that information and type it into the location or keywords boxes on the Francis Frith Collection search page. Confine the focus to the period (from 1860) that the photographic collection covers, or expand the search to take in all year ranges for any given location.
Francis Frith died in 1898 but his pioneering work continued long after his death and you will find many photos of towns and cities in Britain and Ireland from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
Francis Frith made his name through the photographs he took in Great Britain and Ireland, but within this collection you will also find photographs catalogued as 'Special Subjects'. Type the word 'Special' in the keywords box to see the complete list of photograohs that fall into this category.
Bugler Jimmy Durham of the Durham Light Infantry appears with the Francis Frith Special Subjects Collection. As a baby, 'Jimmy' was rescued by the Durham Light Infantry in the Sudan in 1885 and he became a firm favourite with the regiment, later joining it as a boy an serving in the band. His life is well documented and his death was widely mourned when he died of pneumonia in Ireland in 1910. The studio photograph published of him in the Francis Frith Collection dates to 1905.
Use the search radius slider to narrow or widen your search results. If you are only interested in a specific location, set the slider to zero. To expand your search, for instance to take in places nearby that your ancestors might have visited, expand the radius accordingly.