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Museum of London, Department of History Collections

Contact Details

150 London Wall

Fax: 0870 444 3853

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7814 5760/020 7814 5761

Primary Email:

Primary Website: Click here

Secondary Website: Click here

Primary Contact: Mike Seaborne, Senior Curator of Photographs

Conditions of Access

The collection is only open by appointment, so please contact the Senior Curator of Photographs to arrange a visit and to discuss your area of research.

Finding Aids
Exploring 20th Century London website contains many photographs from the collection with extended captions and some photographers' biographies.

Images from MOL collections can be seen on the Museum of London Prints website including Historic Photographs, which are available for purchase.

Also of value in looking for photographs are publications based either in part or wholly on the collection:

London Street Photography 1860-2010
, by Mike Seaborne. 2011.

Photographers' London 1839-1994, by Mike Seaborne. 1995.
Summary of Holdings
The photographs collection is a key resource for the visual history of London during the second half of the 19th and 20th centuries. It includes work by both professional and amateur photographers and covers most aspects of London life. It contains some topographical and architectural images but the main emphasis is on social history.

Notable bodies of work include:

Early topographical views of London by Roger Fenton, c.1857.

Construction of the Metropolitan District Railway by Henry Flather, 1860s.

Street Life in London by John Thomson, c.1876.

Historic London buildings by Alfred & John Bool and Henry Dixon, 1870s & 1880s.

Poverty in the East End by John Galt, early 1900s.

Impressionist photogravure views of London by Alvin Langdon Coburn, early 1900s.

Suffragettes by Christina Broom, early 1900s.

Street and river scenes by George Davison Reid, c.1930.

East End homes by Humphrey Spender, early 1930s.

London street life in the 1930s by Margaret Monck, Wolfgang Suschitzky and Cyril Arapoff.

Underground shelters during the Blitz by Bill Brandt, 1940.

Bomb damage to the City of London during the Blitz by Arthur Cross and Fred Tibbs, 1940-41.

Wartime life during the London Blitz by George Rodger and Bert Hardy.

London street life in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, including work by Nigel Henderson, Roger Mayne, Paul Styles, Bob Collins, Corry Bevington, Jerome Liebling, Lutz Dill, Jim Rice and Paul Trevor.

Topographical views of London by Edwin Smith, 1960s.

'Roots to Reckoning' photographs of the African-Carribbean community in London by Charlie Phillips, Neil Kenlock and Armet Francis.

Contemporary work by many photographers including Yoke Matze, Anna Fox, Alan Delaney, Paul Barkshire, Tim Daly, Chris Dorley-Brown, Tom Evans, John R. J. Taylor, Ed Barber, Magda Segal, Paul Baldesare, Peter Marshall, Dave Trainer, Paulo Catrica, Ronen Numa, Angus Boulton, Janet Hall, Dave Young, Michael Donald, Jason Wilde, John Davies, David Turner, Tom Hunter and Mike Seaborne.

The collection also includes two very large groups of photographs:

The Henry Grant Collection:
The entire photographic archive of this freelance photographer who worked for newspapers and magazines concerned with social or educational issues over the period c.1950-80. This includes the 6x6 cm negatives, contact sheets, prints, documentation and associated paperwork. Containing around 80,000 b&w (no colour) images, this collection covers a huge range of subjects and is worth investigating for almost any aspect of life in post-war London. The Museum also owns the copyright in these images.

The Bassano Collection:
The Bassano Collection consists of over 3,000 half-plate glass negatives of fashion advertisements produced by the Bassano and Vandyk studio between 1913 and 1940. They include advertisements for men's, women's and children's clothing and accessories, including knitwear, sportswear, fur fashions and underwear, and for jewellery and hair styles. Many relate to high profile London shops such as Selfridges, Harrods, Burberrys, Swan & Edgar and Cartier.

The collection also includes the business archive relating to the Henry Grant Collection; correspondence with various photographers; and the scrapbook's of Cyril Arapoff.
Size of Collection

It is estimated there are 250,000 photographs in the collections, which include examples of the major photographic processes and formats.