British photographic history

Information and discussion on all aspects of British photographic history

Launching in December, 2010 The Picture Post Historical Archive, 1938-1957 is the complete, fully text searchable facsimile archive of the Picture Post, the iconic newspaper published in Britain between 1938-1957 that defined the style of photojournalism in the 20th century. It is primarily intended as a resource for academic institutions.

As the latest addition to Gale Historical Newspaper Collections, the Picture Post provides students and researchers with online access to a remarkable visual record of the 1930s to 1950s – from the humorous and light-hearted snapshots of daily life in Britain to the serious and history-defining moments of domestic and international affairs.

Featuring the work of Berty Hardy, Kurt Hutton, John Chillingworth, Bill Brandt, Humphrey Spender, Thurston Hopkins and many more iconic photojournalists.

The online archive consists of the complete run of the paper – from its first issue in 1938 to its last in 1957 and includes almost 50,000 pages – all newly digitised in full colour from originals from Getty Images’ Hulton Archive, holders of the Picture Post Photographic Collection.

For further information see

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Comment by Lauren Gallow on June 9, 2012 at 17:00

Hi Sarah,

I am a doctoral student in the History of Art & Architecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and I'm planning a preliminary dissertation research trip to the UK this July. I am developing my dissertation topic which will have something to do with post-WWII British reconstruction and planning. I am particularly interested in ideas about housing and will be focusing on the social housing estates being discussed and built in London and surrounding areas at this time. I'm interested in accessing debates around these housing estates from a non-architect, non-official perspective, and I'd love to look closer at Picture Post as a possible source for a more "everyday" perspective on these issues. Is it possible to schedule an appointment to visit you and the Hulton Archives in late July?

Thanks so much,

Comment by Sarah McDonald on November 18, 2010 at 14:56
Hi Damian - you are very welcome to visit. We operate normal office hours. I've sent you a friend invitation so we can email to set up a time, etc. Early December would be best for me. Sarah
Comment by Damian Hughes on November 15, 2010 at 18:45
Hi Sarah,

I am a mature student studying for an MA in the History of Photography at De Montfort University. I am currently formulating a research proposal for my Masters dissertation. As part of my research, I would like to investigate photographic practice in the British popular press during the somewhat under-examined period of the 1950s (I may also wish to look at the 1930s).

To help in my research, would it be possible for me to come to visit you at the Hulton Archive. There are a number of resources I would like to find out more about, including:

Editors’ files and materials relating to editorial instructions to photographers – staff or freelance

Picture library records, prints and negatives

Photographers’ personal archives, daybooks or other records of activity.

Would it be possible to arrange an initial visit to talk with you about my research and introduce me to the archive? When would be the best time for me to visit?

Thanks very much in advance for any help you can provide.

Comment by Sarah McDonald on November 12, 2010 at 9:16
I'm afraid that Cengage is primarily an e-tool for educational and related institutions and there are no plans at present to widen access. You can of course continue to search freely on for imagery and brief story outlines from Picture Post.
Comment by Damian Hughes on November 11, 2010 at 23:38
This is excellent news. Are there any plans to widen access to non-institutional users?
Comment by Michael Pritchard on November 11, 2010 at 20:51
This is very exciting. I note that the archive is only available to institutions rather than individuals.

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