How to find old Phoenix/Arizona images from the library for Free – and use as artwork

This is for Arizona specifically but you can google your state or city’s name with the keyword “library” and “free images” and I’m certain some webpages will pop up for you to browse for your specific location.

A tip I had shared on our Homeworthy episode was a large photo of Camelback Mountain I had printed and framed from Framebridge, a collab I did many years ago. I sometimes get asked about it, and when our episode came out a few friends said, “I always wondered about it but never asked because I’d just forget by the time I headed out of the door!”

These old images would bring so much history to your spaces and what better than true, historic photographs in your space? It tells a story of the past, honors the past and it is a unique piece not everyone will have with mass produced artwork (never something you’ll see in my home!).

I hope you find some great photos to print! Just a reminder these are for personal use only.

Paradise Valley in the 1930s

Start here to look for free images

This is where you browse the images

This link is also linked in one of the web pages previously listed. Start searching the collection in the search bar. You can use keywords like “Camelback Mountain” or other streets.

Camelback Mountain 1967

About the archive of images (copy and pasted from the website)

Archives’ photographs focus upon the unique cultural heritage of the state and territory of Arizona, beginning in 1863. The collection includes about 90,000 images, including photographs, slides, negatives, glass plate negatives, tintypes, transparencies, postcards and others.

The majority of photographs in the collection pre-date 1940, with emphases on the following areas: Arizona, governmental, Colorado River, New Deal and educational history; the original C.S. Fly Collection from Tombstone in the 1880’s; the Arizona Highway Department beginning about 1915 with documentation of the construction of most Arizona highways; the Wheeler Expedition photographs by Timothy O Sullivan from the 1870’s; Salsbury Collection of missionary life on the Navajo Reservation from 1930-40s; Thomas Henry Bate Collection (including Rough Riders) from Prescott and Phoenix c1898-1930; a complete set of Arizona railroad stations; the Fish and McClintock Collections of territorial images; the Judge William & Katherine Stilwell Collections, Phoenix period only; and the Scripp Land Survey, undertaken in 1912 documenting state-held lands.

Colorized postcard of Camelback Mountain, 1910

Additional tips – my friend Amber who has been so helpful with design in my house even though we have different styles (she’s VERY good at curating and having that eye for “put that away”) she suggested I get a plate for the frame.

I found¬†brass engraved plates on Etsy¬†and it was around $20. It says “Camelback Mountain and Citrus Groves 1920”


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Diana Elizabeth Steffen setting the table for her annual garden party


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Diana Elizabeth is an author, photographer, and obsessive thrift shopper. You can typically find her in the garden wrist deep in dirt, at a local estate sale or planning her next creative themed party. She continues to blog weekly.


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