Directory of
Photographic Collections
in the UK


Here you will find online resources concerned with all aspects of photography. Each section lists websites of the major institutions, directories, conservation and preservation, photographic societies and groups, blogs. The internet by its very nature is a growing collection of information, and as such this list is not static and will expand. While we welcome suggestions to include websites of interest, any additions to this list will be subject to our criteria and based on whether we consider it to be of value to researchers and the Directory. To contact us you will find our details on the Contact page.

Please be aware that while we provide links to external websites the University of the Arts London, the Directory of Photographic Collections in the UK, the Photography and the Archive Research Centre, and it representatives are not responsible for the content on these pages.

The Photography and the Archive Research Centre

The Centre has a collection of posters of photographic exhibitions from the 1970s to the present day on flickr.

Archives, Libraries and Museums

BFI, London
The BFI's unique collection of photographs and illustrations from cinema and television is based at the bfi office in Stephen Street. The collection contains over 2,500,000 stills and colour transparencies from over 150,000 films and TV programmes.

British Library, London
Catalogue of Photographically Illustrated Books
Catalogue of Photographs
British Library sound catalogue
Oral History of Art, photography and architecture

Courtauld Institute of Contemporary Art, London
Photographic Collections and services
Photographic survey of private collections


English Folk Dance and Song Society
The English's Folk Dance and Song Society exists to raise the national and international profile of the folk arts in England. It is the custodian of our heritage, protecting and developing our rich and diverse traditions and ever-evolving culture. For nearly a century the English Folk Dance and Song Society has been preserving and disseminating our folk heritage.


English Heritage, National Monuments Record, Swindon
English Heritage, National Monuments Record, ViewFinder :
Use ViewFinder to find historic photographs of England. The photographs on ViewFinder are all held by the National Monuments Record, the public archive of English Heritage. They date from the 1850s and are a resource for people interested in England's social, industrial, architectural and archaeological history.

English Heritage Archives:
You’ll find thousands of descriptions of the photographs and documents we keep in our archive. We hold photographs dating from the 1850s to the present day, along with plans and drawings of historic buildings and archaeological sites. Subjects range from architectural details to prehistoric landscapes, from country houses to coal mines.

Imperial War Museum, London
Imperial War Museum Collections
Photographs collection

London Transport Museum, London
The Museum's unique photographic collection reflects London's public transport history from the 1860s to the present day. The core of the collection is made up of the old London Transport photographic archive of over 150 000 black and white photographs. The collection also includes a smaller archive of colour material, as well as historic albums and prints from all periods.

Museum of English Rural Life , The University of Reading
The Museum of English Rural Life houses the most comprehensive national collection of objects, books and archives relating to the history of food, farming and the countryside.

Museum of the History of Science , University of Oxford
The Museum of the History of Science houses an unrivalled collection of early scientific instruments in the world’s oldest surviving purpose-built museum building, the Old Ashmolean on Broad Street, Oxford. We are both a department of the University of Oxford and an active public museum, offering a programme of family-friendly events, gallery tours, table talks and much more, along with teaching sessions for schools. For those unable to come to Oxford we produce online versions of our exhibitions, along with standalone online resources and a web version of our collections database.

National Archives, London
National Archives of Scotland

National Galleries of Scotland

National Library of Wales

National Media Museum, Bradford

National Railway Museum, York

Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS)

Royal Institute of British Architects, London

Royal Photographic Society

Royal Photographic Society Collections

Royal Society of London, London

Science Museum, London

Shetland Museum and archives

Photo Library

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Wellcome Library, London

The Women’s Library, London


Directories, catalogues and databases

A Database
A Database was created in 2006 by the A Foundation to initiate the digitising and archiving of contemporary art to the highest standards.

AIM25 is a major project to provide electronic access to collection level descriptions of the archives of over ninety higher education institutions and learned societies within the greater London area.

Archives Hub
The Archives Hub provides a gateway to thousands of the UK’s richest archives. Representing over 180 institutions across the country, the Archives Hub is an effective way to discover unique and often little-known sources to support your research.

A2A (Access to Archives)
The A2A database contains catalogues describing archives held locally in England and Wales and dating from the eighth century to the present day.

Backstage provides a single point of entry for finding and searching performing arts collections in the UK. It is aimed at the research community, plus anyone with an interest in the performing arts.

Brighton Photographers
This website is devoted to photographers active in the English seaside town of Brighton in the county of Sussex during Victorian and Edwardian times. It is designed to be used by people researching their family history who wish to date family photographs and those interested in the history of photography.

Cecilia is an on-line guide to music collections in archives, libraries and museums in the UK and Ireland.

Copac includes details of materials held in libraries throughout the UK, plus Trinity College Dublin Library in Ireland. Copac includes the catalogues of all the UK National Libraries, a wide range of major University libraries, as well as specialist collections such as the National Art Library (V&A Museum).

Cornucopia Discovering UK Collections
An online database of information about more than 6,000 collections in the UK's museums, galleries, archives and libraries. Whether you are interested in painters or politicians, dinosaurs or space travel, the Romans or the Victorians, Cornucopia can tell you what is available and where to see it.

The Correspondence of William Henry Fox Talbot
The Correspondence of William Henry Fox Talbot Project has prepared a comprehensive edition of the nearly 10,000 letters to and from Talbot (1800-1877), the Wiltshire polymath best known for his invention of photography.

Database of 19th century Photographers and Allied Trades in London: 1841-1901
Based on David Webb's extensive research photoLondon has compiled a database of approximately 9,000 biographical entries on photographic companies and the people who worked within the photographic industry in London during the 19th century.

Digital Handsworth
A history of the ancient parish of Handsworth.

Documenting the Workshop of the World
This Heritage Lottery-funded project began in February 2005 and reached its conclusion in mid 2008. Its objective was to digitise industry-related photographs and catalogue industrial archive collections from the four Black Country archive services. A website was created through the project in 2007 which allows access to the catalogues of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton archives.

Exploring 20th London

The project’s aim is to make the collections held by these museums more accessible (Museum of London, London Transport Museum, Jewish Museum, London, Museum of Croydon), but to do so in a way that links the objects in the collections with the broader history of London. All objects and images featured on the site speak of the real events and experiences of twentieth-century London.


Genesis supports research into women's history. It consists of:
A database with descriptions of women's history collections from museums, libraries and archives in the United Kingdom and a Guide to sources that provides access to a wide range of international web resources on women's history.

Genuki Victorian Professional Photographers in Wales 1850–1925

A History of Photography from its beginnings till the 1920s, Dr. Robert Leggat
This is not designed to be a course on the history of photography such as a resource to dip into. In addition to pen-portraits of many of the most important photographers of the period, it contains information on some of the most significant processes used during the early days of photography.

Historical Directories
Historical Directories is produced and owned by the University of Leicester. It is a digital library of local and trade directories for England and Wales, from 1750 to 1919. Within the digital library you'll find high quality reproductions of comparatively rare books, essential tools for research into local and genealogical history.

The Hughes Collection
Welcome to the Hughes collection web site, this is a companion to a series of events that will run in Bromsgrove and North Worcestershire throughout 2005 and 2006 with the aim of raising public awareness of The Hughes Collection an archive of Victorian and Edwardian photographs.

Ideal Homes: A History of South-East London Suburbs
Exploring the origins and significance of suburbia as revealed through the history of South East London.

KnowUK is a unique online service developed to provide libraries with a complete collection of current, useful and UK-specific reference information from over 100 of the most widely used reference publications in the UK.

Lancashire Lantern: Image Archive
Part of the Lancashire Lantern network, the Image Archive gives access to collections of local photographs, postcards and other images held in libraries.

Lambeth Landmark
Landmark showcases the best 9,000 images from the Lambeth Archives collection of over 30,000 photographs, drawings, prints and watercolours.

M25 Consortium of Academic Libraries
The M25 Consortium of Academic Libraries is a collaborative organisation that works to improve library and information services within the M25 region and more widely across the East and Southeast. The Consortium now has 59 member institutions. Its aim is to provide services and resources for the benefit of learners and researchers.

The Mundus Gateway is a web-based guide to more than four hundred collections of overseas missionary materials held in the United Kingdom. These materials, comprising the archives of British missionary societies, collections of personal papers, printed matter, photographs, other visual materials and artefacts, are held in a large number of libraries, record offices and other institutions in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The Mundus Gateway makes it easier for researchers to locate these collections and obtain sufficient information about their contents to enable effective planning of research visits.

Midley History of Photography
This website presents academic research articles on the early history of photography published by R. D. Wood between 1970 and 2008. This site has been selected for preservation by the British Library at

Photographic Exhibitions in Britain 1939 – 1865
This is a research database containing individual records for over 20 000 photographic exhibits drawn from forty exhibition catalogues published between 1839 - 1865.

Photographers of Great Britain & Ireland 1840 - 1940
This site is all about early photographers from the Victorian era and thereafter - right up to 1940. It is about their work and their studios. The information is based on two very extensive collections - one of British and Irish portrait photographs and another of British trade directories. This service requires you to register and purchase information on the photographers listed. 

PhotoLit is a freely accessible databank which aims to list photographic literature published since 1839. It is NOT a list to order books from. At present (October 2006) PhotoLit lists ca. 32.500 entries (c. 55 MB) of books, periodicals and periodical articles which have – in a wider or more narrow sense – to do with photography in all its artistic, visual and technical aspects. The stock listed so far is only a small part of the world’s existent photographic literature – but titles are constantly added to. And we ask your assistance to make PhotoLit more complete.

Portcities UK
PortCities explores the impact of this maritime world on UK culture.  It tells the stories of the people who lived and worked in the port communities, the key events that shaped their lives, and the trades, industries and leisure activities that grew up around these busy commercial centres. PortCities contains previously unseen digitised source material and personal stories from the maritime collections of our museums, libraries and archives.

Royal Commonwealth Society Photograph Collection, Cambridge University Library
The Royal Commonwealth Society Photograph Collection contains over 70,000 images from all over the world. Dating from the mid-1850s to the mid-1980s the photographs provide insight into the history of the Commonwealth, documenting developments in a wide variety of fields including medicine, education and industry.

Scran is a charity & online learning resource base with over 360,000 images & media from museums, galleries, archives and the media. Scran - part of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland - aims to provide educational access to digital materials representing our material culture and history.

UK portrait & studio photographers c1840-1950
Many years ago we began our search for Edwin Mowll who probably took photographs of our Norfolk ancestors on a summer outing to Holkham in 1883. We traced Edwin's birth at Dover in 1851, his presence in Burnley in 1881, his move to Lynn where he had a studio around 1885 and then to Birmingham. We have yet to find our ancestors in his photographs but we became interested in the migration of photographers and dating of photographs and so this site was born.

Victorian and Edwardian Photographs - Roger Vaughan Personal Collection

Conservation and preservation, and photographic identification

The British Library Centre for Conservation
The Centre provides purpose-built accommodation designed to meet the specific requirements of its occupants. As well as a greatly improved working environment for staff, the building offers the best possible conditions for the conservation of books and for audio engineering. The facilities and programmes take Conservation, Collection Care and the Sound Archive out of the back room and into the public eye.

National Conservation Centre
Conservators based in this unique venue look after National Museums Liverpool's diverse collections. Everything from Roman sculpture to Cold War spacesuits comes here to be preserved and restored.

The Institute of Conservation
Icon is the lead voice for the conservation of cultural heritage in the UK. As a charity, Icon is committed to public benefit through promoting public understanding of and access to all the diverse elements of cultural heritage. It brings together over three thousand individuals and organisations. Its membership embraces the wider conservation community, incorporating not only professional conservators in all disciplines, but all others who share a commitment to improving understanding of and access to our cultural heritage.

National Preservation Office (BL)
The Preservation Advisory Centre supports the preservation of library and archive collections of all types through the provision of preservation management tools, training and information services.

JISC Digital Media
JISC Digital Media exists to help the UK’s FE and HE communities embrace and maximise the use of digital media - and to achieve solutions that are innovative, practical and cost effective. The website provides advice covering all aspects of creating, managing and using still image resources.

Picture Libraries

British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies (BAPLA)
Links to picture libraries and agencies in the UK who are members of BAPLA.

Photographic societies and clubs

Photographic Collectors’ Club of Great Britain
The Photographic Collectors Club of Great Britain is the world's leading organization for collectors and enthusiasts interested in the collection and study of photographic equipment and images. Formed in 1977 the Club has over 1000 members worldwide with diverse interests ranging from sub-miniature cameras to daguerreotypes, through to photographic books and using vintage equipment and processes.

Royal Photographic Society
The Royal Photographic Society was founded in 1853 'to promote the Art and Science of Photography', a mission it continues to this day.

Scottish Society for the History of Photography
The main objective of the Society is to further interest and pleasure in historic and modern photography. To that end, it organises talks, workshops, visits to collections and exhibitions. The yearbook of the Society, Studies in Photography, containing articles, interviews, book reviews and the transcripts of the Society's annual Photographer's and Annan Lectures, is available exclusively to members of the Society.


Photographic miscellaneous: blogs, groups, etc.

British photographic history
Welcome to the British photographic history blog which was launched at the start of 2009. There are now nearly six hundred members, plus other regular readers. These range from museum and gallery curators, photographic academics, collectors, dealers and representatives from the photographic press from around the world. The blog provides a forum for news of events and happenings within the British photographic history community.

The EdinPhoto web site includes: History of Photography in Edinburgh, Edinburgh Maps, History of Edinburgh, Photos of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Recollections, Edinburgh Today.

Fotonet was founded by Susie Medley and Southern Arts to promote and develop photography in the southern region of the UK and was hosted by the Visual Arts Department at Oxford Brookes University. The website was made as a priority as the best vehicle for networking and promoting photography activities in the region, nationally and internationally.

I’m a Photographer not a Terrorist
Photography is under attack. Across the country it that seems anyone with a camera is being targeted as a potential terrorist, whether amateur or professional, whether landscape, architectural or street photographer. This campaign is for everyone who values visual imagery, not just photographers. We must work together now to stop this before photography becomes a part of history rather than a way of recording it.

London Independent Photography
London Independent Photography is a community organisation for amateur and professional photographers with more than 600 members. Our activities are designed to bring together photographers with different interests and levels of expertise who wish to develop their personal approach to photography, improve their skills and gain recognition for their work.

Redeye, the Photography Network, is based in Manchester, England. It aims to make life easier for photographers and photography in the region, the UK and beyond, by providing information, opportunities, events, training and professional development. It is a voluntary sector not-for-profit company. Anyone can become a subscriber free of charge.

>Re: PHOTO is a blog about photography by Peter Marshall.

Uncertain States
Uncertain States is a lens based, artist led project. Releasing a quarterly newspaper we attempt to expand a critical dialogue and promote visual imagery. The work reflects some key social and political concerns and challenges how perception is formed in a society like ours, on issues as diverse as politics, religion and personal identity.