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12201034074?profile=originalAn historic agreement between the Science Museum Group (SMG) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is set to create the world’s foremost collection on the art of photography according to a press release published by the V&A Museum.

  • World’s leading collection on the art of photography to be created at the V&A
  • RPS Collection to move to V&A London
  • National Media Museum to focus on STEM subjects
  • No future national museum of photography

The museums have announced that more than 400,000 objects from SMG’s three-million-strong photography collection, held at the National Media Museum, will be transferred to the V&A. These photographs, cameras, books and manuscript material will join the V&A’s existing collection of 500,000 photographs to create an International Photography Resource Centre. The new Centre will provide the public with a world-class facility to access this consolidated collection, which will become the single largest collection on the art of photography in the world.

The collection being transferred encompasses exquisite vintage prints, the world’s first negative, unique daguerreotypes and early colour photographs, as well as important albums, books, cameras and the archives of major photographers. At its heart is the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) Collection, which charts the invention and development of photography over the last two centuries.
Among the treasures moving to the V&A are works by British pioneers William Henry Fox Talbot, Hill & Adamson, Roger Fenton and Julia Margaret Cameron. The collection also demonstrates Britain’s role as an international hub for photography, with major holdings by artists such as Alfred Stieglitz, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Gertrude Käsebier, Paul Strand and Ansel Adams. Highlights of the consolidated collection will include Oscar Rejlander’s 1857 ground-breaking composite The Two Ways of Life, Mervyn O’Gorman’s intriguing 1913 autochrome Christina, Yusuf Karsh’s iconic Winston Churchill portrait and Angus McBean’s surreal study of Audrey Hepburn alongside works by contemporary photographers including Martin Parr, Sarah Jones, Susan Derges and Simon Roberts.

V&A Director, Martin Roth, said: The V&A and Science Museum Group have shared origins and uniting our complementary collections will create a peerless historical and artistic photography resource. Our ambitious plans for enhancing digital access, collaborative research, touring exhibitions and creating an International Photography Resource Centre will mean that future generations of visitors and researchers will benefit from these examples of the most important artistic developments in artistic photographic history.”

Dr Michael Pritchard, Director-General of the RPS, said: “The RPS has worked closely with the National Media Museum since 2003 to ensure that the world-class RPS Collection of photographs, technology, books and documents from 1827 to 2016 has grown and developed. I am pleased that we can further enhance the RPS Collection’s stature alongside the V&A’s own art photography collection and make it more widely available to the public and scholars and ensuring it remains a prime resource for future generations.  The RPS is extremely fortunate to benefit from the support and expertise of one of the world’s most revered cultural institutions.”

A commitment has been given that the RPS Collection will be retained as a distinct entity and there will be negotiations over the coming weeks to ensure that the the current partnership agreement with the National Media Museum is carried over to the V&A. While the move will prove beneficial in opening up access to the RPS Collection the Society is concerned that the absence of a single institution with the curatorial expertise to collect and interpret all aspects of photography beyond its art will lead to a selective and narrow appreciation of photography that existed before the formation of the National Media Museum in 1983 when the V&A and Science Museum worked independently.

There will be challenges for the V&A which houses the national collection of art photography to deal with photographic technology and science that forms a key part of the RPS Collection. The Society will be keen to see the V&A expand its remit to take responsibility for the National Photography Collection. There will be further announcements over the coming weeks regarding the transfer, timings and impact on the other collections held at the National Media Museum and senior curatorial staff have entered a period of consultation regarding their jobs. 

Once transferred, the collection will be stored, digitised and made accessible for study. In the short term, the permanent gallery space dedicated to photographs at the V&A will be doubled. A second phase will see the opening of an International Photography Resource Centre to provide unprecedented opportunities for access, collaborative research and education with this unrivalled collection. As part of the agreement, the V&A will work closely with SMG to give access to the transferred collections for future scholarship and exhibitions.

12201034270?profile=originalThe National Media Museum in Bradford – one of the four museums that make up SMG – is refocusing its photography collections to align with its own strategic emphasis on the science, technology and culture of light and sound. The National Media Museum will retain the collections which support an understanding of the development of photographic processes (such as the Kodak Museum collection), the ongoing cultural impact of photography (such as the Daily Herald archive) as well as photographic archives that have specific relevance to Bradford (such as the Impressions Gallery archive). A new £1.5 million interactive light and sound gallery is due to open in March 2017.

See more here:

There is more background relevant to Bradford here:

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12201018075?profile=originalThe mystery surrounding the identity of a girl, known only as ‘Christina’, has been solved after her striking 102-year-old colour portraits were seen around the world, including on BPH. The images are part of The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum, and three are currently on show in the exhibition Drawn By Light: The Royal Photographic Society Collection (National Media Museum, Bradford, until June 21).

Initially, Christina was thought to be the daughter of Mervyn O’Gorman, the amateur photographer who took the shots. But research showed O’Gorman had no children, meaning her true identity remained a mystery, until now.

As a result of seeing the images, Mr Stephen Riddle contacted National Media Museum curator Colin Harding to say he had a set of stereoscopic slides by Mervyn O’Gorman, which had been passed to him by his father-in-law. The slides feature colour autochrome pictures not previously seen by anyone at the Museum.

12201018092?profile=originalCaptions on the slides refer to Edwyn and Daisy Bevan, along with ‘the children’, Anne and Christina, picturing them in various locations including the beach at West Lulworth and outside an address in Chelsea Embankment.

Colin Harding, Curator of Photographs and Photographic Technology at the National Media Museum, said: “We are very grateful to Mr Riddle for contacting us and it was a genuine thrill to see these images. After all the recent attention Christina had been getting I hoped they would give us sufficient clues to finally confirm her identity. It turns out Christina wasn’t O’Gorman’s daughter. Indeed, she wasn’t a relative – either close or distant.

“Christina’s full name was Christina Elizabeth Frances Bevan. She was born in Harrow on 8 March, 1897 and died in 1981. Christina was the daughter of Edwyn Robert Bevan (1870-1943), a prominent philosopher, writer on comparative religions and lecturer in Hellenistic Studies at King’s College, London.

12201018698?profile=original“On 25 April 1896, Edwyn married Hon. Mary Waldegrave (born 1870), the daughter of Granville Waldegrave, 3rd Baron Radstock. Edwyn and Mary, who was known to family and friends as Daisy, had two daughters – Christina and Anne Cornelia Favell Bevan (1898 – 1983).

“The Bevan family lived at no. 6 Chelsea Embankment – just a two minute walk from the O’Gorman’s home at 21 Embankment Gardens. The precise relationship between the two families still needs to be explored – perhaps Edwyn and Mervyn were members of the same club, or perhaps they shared a mutual interest in automobiles. Perhaps Mervyn O’Gorman’s wife, Florence, and Daisy were friends.

Whatever the link, both families were clearly on friendly, first name terms. Certainly, the friendship was sufficient for Mervyn to accompany Daisy and her two daughters on a trip to Lulworth Cove in August 1913, where he took portraits of Christina.”

The exhibition Drawn By Light: The Royal Photographic Society Collection was previously displayed at Media Space in the Science Museum, and runs until Sunday 21 June at the National Media Museum.


Above: Christina, Daisy & Anne, walking to the beach in West Lulworth - the location of Christina’s portrait shots, August 1913. Stereo-autochrome. By Mervyn O’Gorman, courtesy of Stephen Riddle.

Below: Windsor Park, Daisy Bevan and the children watching for birds, June 1913. Stereo-autochrome. By Mervyn O’Gorman, courtesy of Stephen Riddle.

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12200977886?profile=original20 July: One of the oldest, extant, dedicated photographic archives in the world, the Barnardo's photographic archive, currently housed in Barkingside, East London is under threat. Following its digitisation the archive will be transferred to another organisation or will be destroyed.

Over the next few months, Barnardo's will be having its entire photographic archive digitised in Manchester. Due to space issues at Barnardo's, the organisation will then destroy the original images unless an archive or museum can be persuaded to save these important historic documents. The material consists of about of shelving around fifteen feet in length holding archival boxes about 8 inches deep and about 20 inches high. The pages from the original admissions ledgers have been cut out and placed in archival plastic sheets.

Dr. Thomas Barnardo began photographing the 'waifs and strays' that came into his care at his first childrens home in Stepney causeway as early as 1875, employing two photographers, Barnardo preceded most prisons and asylums by seeing the benifits of photography for institutional record keeping. He soon came into legal trouble for faking the condition of the children for the purposes of publicity. 

The importance of these beautiful images - not just to photographic history but to the study of archive practices and British social history - cannot be overstated. It is imperative that their material importance is upheld and that they do not simply become yet another archive solely made up of a smattering of zeroes and ones.

There are certain stipulations regarding the public use of images of children within their care and the images would be subject to a 100 year privacy rule but would still be accessible for private and/or scholarly work.

If you might know of an institution, archive, museum, group of people or persons that would be willing to help save this archive of historical importance please contact the head archivist at Barnardos.

Read more about the Barnardo archive here:


Update 1: A petition has been launched to 'save' the archive. Click here to view and sign. The petition addressed to Culture Minister Maria Miller has been signed by over 1000 people. 


Update 2: Barnardos has commented publicly for the first time. It says it is 'confident it will find a destination for 500,000 historic photos'. 

Update 3: According to Amateur Photographer magazine over forty offers to house the archive have been received.  

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12200886678?profile=originalTwo new jobs at De Montfort University have been advertised. De Montfort University has a well established reputation for providing web access to primary research sources in the history of photography. You will help to shape and to realise our long term plan to establish us as a centre of excellence, by delivering this ambition in partnership with other organisations that share our zeal for the subject. Research Fellow in Photographic History (0.2FTE). Part Time. Grade F: £30,594 - £33,432 per annum (pro rata). With a recently completed PhD (or equivalent), or currently undertaking one, you will contribute to the teaching of the MA in Photographic History and Practice, developing and delivering a module in Photography and Industry. You will undertake personal research related to the subject area. Senior Research Fellow in Photographic History (0.6 FTE). Part Time. Grade G: £34,435 - 43,622 per annum (pro rata). With a PhD (or equivalent) and teaching experience at Masters level, you will contribute to the teaching of the MA in Photographic History and Practice, including a module related to Photographic Ethnographies. You will pursue personal research and undertake Photographic History bid writing. The closing date for applications is: 13 July 2009. Application forms and further details are available from:
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Just released information discloses that the Matthew R. Isenburg Collection of early photography has sold to the Archive of Modern Conflict (AMC) for a record $15 million, and has now been moved to its new home in Toronto, Canada where a new museum facility is being designed for its future display.  This is the most significant, and historically important, sale of photographic material of the last 50 years; a deal that was conceived and brokered by vintage photography dealer, Greg French, of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

In the quiet town of Hadlyme, Connecticut, the largest single private purchase of vintage photographs, and early photographic equipment and ephemera, was consummated with the simple shake of the hand this past April.  No paperwork, no written agreement, no lawyers present - just a handshake between like-minded people who understood the importance of keeping a historical collection together, and not splitting it up. They met for the first time at two o'clock in the afternoon, and by 2 a.m. the next morning "they had a deal," Isenburg said. "There was an instant trust between all of us."  Weeks later, papers were officially signed to legalize the deal, but it was the handshake that sealed the deal for Isenburg, and what he put his trust in.

$15 million is the largest amount ever paid for a single 19th century private photographic collection, and far surpasses the combined total of $8 million paid in 1994 and 2007 for two separate photographic collections assembled by the late, Jack Naylor, of Chestnut Hill, MA.  Even the $250,000.00 paid in 1963 by the Harry Ransom Center in Texas for Helmut Gernsheim's historically important photography collection (it contained the world's first photograph), would only translate into less than $2 million in today's dollars, although the collection is undoubtedly worth much more in today’s market.

Isenburg's collection is significant to the history of photography because it contains so many early and important daguerreotypes (the first practical photographic process), created by the earliest and best photographers in America - when photography was in its infancy in the 1840s and 1850s.  Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, 1787-1851, the inventor of the daguerreotype, announced his new process to the world on August 19, 1839 in France.

The collection also contains the largest number of early American daguerreian cameras (more than two dozen) ever assembled by anyone.  The George Eastman House in Rochester, NY has only eight American daguerreian cameras in their collection.

To characterize Isenburg's collection in a few words, it's the best of the best; an unparalleled assemblage of over 20,000 individual items, focused mainly on the early years, that together chronicle photography's humble beginnings - through not only important images and cameras, but through all the various accoutrements of the trade - also including advertisements, diaries, books, journals and all manner of photographic ephemera imaginable. Isenburg has often said, "I paid premium prices for best of breed, best in class.”

The 85-year-old Isenburg has owned numerous Ford auto dealerships in the past, whose success afforded him the opportunity to collect.  He isn't just a collector though; he's a photo historian who's always been more interested in piecing together the story behind an object or image, than he is about just owning something.  He's a photographic compendium who's spent the last fifty years seeking out history through photography.

In the third floor museum (now empty) in his home, a priceless daguerreotype would be displayed next to a tattered receipt and a handwritten letter or diary because they relate to one another and tell a compelling story.  He owned the posing chair from America's premier daguerreotypists, Southworth and Hawes of Boston, in addition to the largest collection of Southworth and Hawes full-plate daguerreotypes (over 40) in private hands.  Along with the chair, many other Southworth and Hawes items - from family photos and letters, to paintings, bills of sale, a partnership agreement, advertisements and ephemera, help to reveal the story of what it was like to be a photographer in the 1850s.

Highlights of Isenburg's vast collection include one of the earliest surviving daguerreotypes (there are only two others known) showing the US Capitol in 1846, by daguerreotypist John Plumbe Jr., along with the two earliest daguerreotypes depicting New York City.  He also owned the earliest extant, and complete, example of an American daguerreotype camera outfit - built by William H. Butler in 1841, and containing its original sensitizing and developing equipment, all housed together in a single wooden box.  His collection of California Gold Rush daguerreotypes, with related letters and ephemera, is unparalleled, and his photographic library was probably the most comprehensive in private hands.  Another unique item was Isenburg's one-of-a-kind c. 1855 exquisitely hand-carved-and-painted American eagle with a greater than eight-foot wing span which is sitting atop the carving's framed centerpiece - a full-plate outdoor daguerreotype depicting a Massachusetts military company in full dress uniforms.  The daguerreotype is surrounded by additional military-themed-carvings depicting an American flag, sword, cannon, cannon balls and a drum.

The packing and shipping of the collection took a crew of anywhere from five to nine people - five full weeks to complete over the past two months (all paid for by AMC), and a cherry picker had to be rented in order to remove the over eight-foot-wide carved American eagle and other objects from the third floor museum.

The task of unpacking, cataloging and photographing every item has begun in Toronto, and is being carried out by AMC's newly-appointed curators of the collection, Jill Offenbeck and Amanda Shear, both of Toronto. The AMC’s chief photography buyer in North America, Neil MacDonald, also from Toronto, was instrumental in convincing AMC that the Isenburg Collection was essential to their vision.  Toronto native and Daguerreian Society President Mike Robinson has been recently appointed as AMC's Director of Education and Research Programs and will oversee the organization and cataloging of the collection.

With offices in both London, England and Toronto, AMC's collection of well over three million images contains primarily vernacular photographs that tell mankind's forgotten stories through the personal photographic albums and images created and preserved by the common man; an un-bandaged reality, rarely seen, and too often discarded by ensuing generations.  Images of 20th century conflict, war, political unrest, social revolution, cultural traditions, etc. were AMC's primary focus when they began collecting in the 1990s, but that soon expanded to include 19th century images as well as manuscripts and objects.  The addition of the Isenburg Collection, adds a formidable dimension to AMC's holdings, much as the Gernsheim Collection added early photo-history to the Harry Ransom Center in Texas.

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Obituary: Peter Stubbs FRPS (1945-2023) 

12309832666?profile=RESIZE_400xPeter Stubbs who has died aged 78 years joined the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) in 1993. He was awarded the first ever Fellowship for a website in 2005 in the Research category. The site was a monumental achievement exploring the history of the Edinburgh Photographic Society (EPS) and its members from its foundation in 1861 to 1999. The website showed that good research did not always need to be presented in book form. Peter continued to expand the scope of the website until recently. As a member of the EPS for over thirty years he became the memory of the Society through his diligent research into its formation and its progress from its inception. 

Peter also produced a fascinating record of the nineteenth century photographic businesses in the city, particularly in Princes Street, of which there were a large number.  He formed the view that Robert Louis Stevenson was aware of the Edinburgh studio scene when he wrote his novel Jekyll and Hyde 

Edinburgh was very much the focus of Peter’s photographic interests and over the years he created an archive of industry in the city.  His major contribution to photography in the city is contained in the website  It is a huge combination of photographs of people, places and activities in the city both historic and recent. This shows how the city has developed over an extended period, including what has physically changed and what has remained the same. The website remains live and a valuable resource although some links are now broken.

Peter was an actuary by profession, which probably explains his capacity to organise such an extensive project. He has left an important legacy for the city, for Edinburgh Photographic Society and for photographic historians more generally.

His enthusiasm for photographic history did not extend to using old fashioned plate cameras. Once on a cold spring day on Rannoch Moor, as a fellow member was demonstrating the use of his newly acquired half-plate camera and taking forever to do so, he observed that he never wanted to use a camera like that.  Indeed, as a member of the hillwalking group ‘All Year Ramblers’, he recorded their walks with his iPad. 

Douglas J May FRPS,
and additions from Dr Michael Pritchard FRPS

See: for earlier versions (which retain some of the now broken links see:*/

Image: peter_edinphoto / Instagram

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A 19th Century Portrait Studio

12200908660?profile=originalFrom last year's recreation of an entire room evocative of the ancestral home of Fox Talbot, early photography specialist dealer of 19th and early 20th century photographs from New York, Hans P. Kraus Jr,  will show a glimpse of how early photography revolutionized the tradition of portrait making with an exhibition of important 19th century photographs.

The exhibition, entitled A 19th Century Portrait Studio, will showcase photographs from such influential early photographers as Julia Margaret Cameron, Lewis Carroll, Nadar, Roger Fenton and Hill & Adamson. Compelling, intimate and historically fascinating, the photographs depict a range of subjects and processes including daguerreotypes, tintypes, salt prints and albumen prints. One of the highlights is a stunning albumen print of young Eliza D. Hobson at Croft Rectory, Yorkshire, circa 1860, by Lewis Carroll, best known as the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

A 19th Century Portrait Studio will be on view at the Winter Antiques Show, booth # 26, at the Park Avenue Armory from January 21 through 30, 2011. Details can be found here.

Photo:  Lewis Carrol (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) (English, 1832-1898) Eliza D. Hobson, taken at Croft Rectory, Yorkshire, circa 1860 Albumen : 15.5 x 12.5 cm


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12342765256?profile=RESIZE_400xFollowing a recent Court of Appeal ruling on UK Copyright law art historian Dr. Bendor Grosvenor, a long-standing campaigner on academic image use, has written an interesting article in The Art Newspaper on how the case affects image fees and UK museums where the original artwork is itself out of copyright:

He adds more detail in a thread on his Twitter (X) feed, including feedback that he has subsequently received from the National Gallery and the Tate:

It may well also interest map and photo historians.


BPH editor's note: The ruling clarifies that copyright cannot for straight copies out out of copyright 2D works of art. In Grosvenor's words: "It means these photographs [of 2d artworks] are in the public domain, and free to use." However, with instititutions and galleries acting as gatekeepers for their collections the supply of high res files is likely to remain something that they continue to charge for. Any low (and rarely high res) files online or available for download of out of copyright work are now free to use. 

The basis for this is in Lord Justice Arnold's (THJ Systems v Sheridan, 2023), ruling that, for copyright to arise: “What is required is that the author was able to express their creative abilities in the production of the work by making free and creative choices so as to stamp the work created with their personal touch... “his criterion is not satisfied where the content of the work is dictated by technical considerations, rules or other constraints which leave no room for creative freedom”. As Grosvenor summarises: "if the aim of a museum photograph is to accurately reproduce a painting (which it must be), then it cannot acquire copyright." He concludes: "For art history, this is a judgement where everyone wins."

As I noted earlier, with instititions still controlling supply - and the conditions of use - then there may be little change in the cost of using images in publications, online, and especially for commercial use. The argument from institutions is that reproduction fees support digitisation programmes, the staff and photography departments needed to deliver photography, and the servers and tech infrastructure that make them available. There is now perhaps a stronger argument for publicly funded digital imagery of out of copyright material to now be made freely available in high res versions. For some commercial picture libraries this ruling may undermine parts of their business model, although they have tended to be better at watermarking and limiting material to low res images, and with a commercial remit have been under less pressure to change. Publicly-funded institutions have less of a defence.   

Institutions in the United States are ahead of the UK in this area with many making reproductions of their artworks (including photographs) freely available in low and high res versions for non-commercial use, and some even allowing commercial use. For photography where reproductions of the same artwork may appear in different collections US collections continue to be the first port of call for those seeking to reproduce material. 

There are several legal summaries and this is one of the more useful:

Dr Michael Pritchard


BAPLA has published its response to the case, reminding us that copyright and image fees are two separate things. See:

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Research: Who was Christina?

12201004088?profile=originalThe image of Christina by Mervyn O'Gorman will be familiar having been used to promote the exhibition Drawn by Light. The Royal Photographic Society Collection which is still showing at the National Media Museum, Bradford. The Mailonline is trying to find out who Christina was in a feature here. It has interviewed Drawn by Light curator 'and Leeds University lecturer' (better known to BPH readers a National Media Museum curator) Colin Harding who did some biographical research without finding an answer. He has suggested that she was not O'Gorman's daughter but possibly a niece. 

O'Gorman was born in Brighton is 1871 and studied science at University College, Dubin. He later worked in electrical engineering and had a penchant for cars, eventually being crowned vice president of the Royal Automobile Club. 

The talented entrepreneur married Florence Rasch in 1897, and during the first World War, he became a lieutenant-colonel in the RFC.

When he died in 1958 at the age of 87, Melvyn's obituary described him as 'a man of agile mind and Hibernian eloquence'.

12201004488?profile=originalThe article is well worth a read and if you know the answer to who Christina was and what happened to her please contact BPH. It would be nice to scoop the Mail!

Image: The Royal Photographic Society Collection/National Media Museum. 

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J M W Turner and J J E Mayall

12201000068?profile=originalThe release of Mr Turner, Mike Leigh's film about J M W Turner includes a meeting between Turner and the photographer J J E Mayall who takes Turner's daguerreotype portrait. The film scenario notes: Turner visits the London studio of J.J.E. Mayall, a young photographer and maker of daguerreotypes. Turner is fascinated by the camera and the technology, but expresses concern at the implication of this new art.

In Chelsea, he shows Mrs Booth his daguerreotype portrait, and informs her, to her horror, that he has arranged for the two of them to be photographed together in a few days. Although she flatly refuses to go, we soon find her there, side by side with Turner. She is terrified. As Mayall takes their picture, he talks of having photographed the Niagara Falls. Turner reflects ruefully that there will  soon come a time when photography will replace painting.

In the film John J E Mayall is portrayed by Leo Bill who was instructed by modern daguerreotypist David Burder FRPS. 

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Illustrated London News archive goes online

A unique visual archive of 19th century Victorian Britain, including illustrations and photographs of events ranging from the Great Exhibition of 1851 to the Boer war, will be available online for the first time from today. The Illustrated London News archive holds 250,000 pages and as many as three quarters of a million illustrations, from as far back as 1842.

With its debut in 1842, The Illustrated London News became the world’s first fully illustrated weekly newspaper, marking a revolution in journalism and news reporting. The publication presented a vivid picture of British and world events – including news of war, disaster, ceremonies, the arts and science – with coverage in the first issue ranging from the Great Fire of Hamburg to Queen Victoria’s fancy dress ball at Buckingham Palace.

The Illustrated London News Historical Archive gives students and researchers unprecedented online access to the entire run of the ILN from its first publication on 14 May 1842 to its last in 2003. Each page has been digitally reproduced in full colour and every article and caption is full-text searchable with hit-term highlighting and links to corresponding illustrations. Facsimilies of articles and illustrations can be viewed, printed and saved either individually or in the context of the page in which they appear. Wherever possible Special Numbers covering special events such as coronations or royal funerals have been included.

To request pricing or a free trial contact

Please note: The ILN Historical Archive is only available for institutions to trial and purchase.The archive is not available at this stage for individual subscriptions, although a pay per view site may be
considered at some future time. Users of the archive can share images and articles for non commercial purposes only. If you wish to order and download images for commercial purposes please visit the Mary Evans Picture Library.

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12201035686?profile=originalBeryl Diana Vosburgh, who for many years ran Jubilee Photographica, a shop selling old photographs and photographic equipment, in Pierrepoint Row, Camden Passage, London, died on 6 July 2016.

Beryl was a familiar face at the early auctions of photography and the name 'Jubilee' would be heard repeatedly in the days when a buyer's name was called out in the auction room and printed in the realised price sheets. She attended the first photography fairs and was a long-serving committee member of the Historical Group of the Royal Photographic Society which she joined in 1973. She was a founding member of both the Group and the Magic Lantern Society. Her shop was one of the first in Britain specifically devoted to historical photography and only closed in 2002. 

Beryl Roques was born in 1932 in Edmonton, north London. She attended RADA where she met Richard 'Dick' Vosburgh, the actor, writer, lyricist and broadcaster. They married in 1953 and remained together until his death in 2007 living in a beautiful town house in London's Islington. They had a son and five daughters.

While she was studying at RADA she was snapped up to be one of the main anchors of the 1952 BBC Radio series: The Younger Generation Under 20 Parade. It was described in the Radio Times as 'A programme on things to read, see, and hear, presented mainly by under-twenties'. She starred in this weekly series throughout 1952-53. Her resulting acting career highlights included: Miss Phillips in BBC Radio's Mrs Dale's Diary; Princess February in The Golden Cage for Children's Hour; the 1954 Home Service series entitled Home and Away with Dora Bryan and the BBC Revue Orchestra; alongside Phyllis Calvert in Monday Matinee presents Craig's Wife; 1961 film: A Little of What She Fancied and 1962's Associated Rediffusion TV series No Hiding Place.

In 1965 she became one of the regular presenters of the popular BBC children's programme Play School. She presented 35 episodes of the show alongside regulars Eric Thompson, Derek Griffiths, Johnny Ball and Brian Cant.

In 1977 her real-life actress daughter Tilly Vosburgh played her offspring in Secret Diaries for Yorkshire Television (her other daughter was played by Sophie Thompson). Also in 1977 she performed in a Jubilee theatre show at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Beryl supported Dick's successful career in television, radio, theatre, film and magazine, often assisting him on projects when he had plays on Broadway, on tour and in the West End and looking after the children when Dick was heavily involved in a project.

She played various roles in the demo tapes for her husband's musicals: Windy CityA Day in Hollywood A Night in the Ukraine and A Saint She Ain't to name a few. Beryl appeared in Jango (1961).  Away from her acting and shop, she was a professional photographer, photographing theatrical productions and taking the Spotlight pictures of countless high-profile actors and actresses.

12201035889?profile=originalMichael Pritchard writes...As a boy in the 1980s I got to know Beryl through the RPS Historical Group. I remember visiting her shop, taking care to visit on a Wednesday or Saturday, when it was open. Beryl's shop included plenty of cartes de visite, stereocards, albums, stereoscopes, lantern slides, cameras and the more accessible end of the market. She had a particular interest in photographic jewellery. When one visited she was more likely than not to press a photograph in to your hand as a gift irrespective of whether you bought something. She regularly donated material to institutions or to individuals if she felt it was the right home for it. Beryl was kindly, knowledgeable and wonderful company over dinner at her College Cross house. 

Images: courtesy The RPS, The Photographic Journal, February 1975. 

UPDATE: Amy Vosburgh has been in contact with details of Beryl's funeral which will take place on 18 July at Golders Green Crematorium. Anyone wishing to attend is asked to contact her on 07866 718030.

UPDATE 2. Thank you to Amy for additional information about Beryl's film and television career. 

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12201081493?profile=originalThe news of the death of Peter James from organ failure which has just been announced has shocked and saddened the world of photographic history. Photography has lost one of its most active and accomplished historians and a wider champion for photography. In a community which is not a large one Pete was a giant and the words of one long time collaborator and friend sum up the sense of loss: "British photo history will not be the same .... Pete was an unsung hero. He achieved more, and to greater effect, than most in the field. He was truly astonishing." Another historian commented: "a great loss to the field as Pete was universally loved and his work widely admired...I will miss his wonderfully laconic emails and dry wit."

Pete was Head of Photography at the Library of Birmingham for over 25 years and a former Chairman of the Committee of National Photography Collections. He was one of the catalysts for, and a founding member of, the Photographic Collections Network. He received the Royal Photographic Society's Colin Ford Award for Curatorship and received the Society's Fellowship twice. 

During the course of his career he worked with a wide range of photography organisations in Birmingham including Ten:8, Building Sights, PhotoCall, Arts Council West Midlands, Photopack and Seeing the Light/Rhubarb. He was co-founder (2012) and Co-Director of GRAIN: the photographic hub and network for the West Midlands.

He developed and delivered partnership projects with a range of academic institutions including exhibitions, PhD supervision, awards, conferences, lectures, research and was a visiting lecturer at a number of universities including BCU, University of Birmingham, Falmouth, Nottingham, Staffordshire, and Ulster and delivered papers at a range of academic and photographic conferences. He has been a portfolio reviewer at events such as Rhubarb Rhubarb, Format Photo Festival and for GRAIN.

12201082273?profile=originalHe researched and curated exhibitions of historical and contemporary photography at institutions including the V&A, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Ikon Gallery, the Library of Birmingham, The Royal Photographic Society, and Museum Africa, Johannesburg amongst other venues.

Before leaving the Library of Birmingham in October 2015 he completed working on exhibition / publication projects with Mat Collishaw and Broomberg & Chanarin. He was also a speaker at the Fast Forward: Women and Photography conference at Tate and contributed an essay for the catalogue accompany the exhibition At Home with Vanley Burke (Ikon July 2015). (Information part taken from PARC).

One of his last major projects Thresholds, a virtual reality installation with the artist Mat Collishaw, based on Talbot’s exhibition of photogenic drawings in Birmingham in 1839 opened at Somerset House in May 2017 and is currently on show at the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford. At the time of his death is was researching the life of the early Birmingham photographer George Shaw. 

Accomplished and prolific, Pete was also a friend of many and willing to share his knowledge. His publications and work will be a lasting legacy for someone who still had much more to give. 

A fuller obituary will be published shortly. 

Pete's family has published a notice on Twitter here: @patinotype.

UPDATE: Pete's funeral will take place 3 April 2018 at Lodge Hill Crematorium, B29 5AA with a gathering at 5pm at Birmingham Midland Institute, B3 3BS. Please email: to confirm attendance. 

Pete was interviewed for the Oral History of British Photography based at the British Library. His interview is embargoed until 2020. With thanks to Shirley Read for reminding BPH of this.  

Images courtesy Michael Pritchard.  Pete James at the Library of Birmingham with the RPS Historical Group. 

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12201129688?profile=originalSue Davies who has died, after a short illness, aged 87 years, was the founder director of London’s The Photographers’ Gallery, the first public space dedicated solely to photography and photographers in the United Kingdom. During her twenty years as gallery director she established it as the go-to place for photography, particularly in its early years when photography was largely ignored by the UK’s arts establishment and there were no other galleries of photography. The Photographers’ Gallery exhibitions were diverse, ranging from historical photography, the work of contemporary photographers, and themed shows, often with an international perspective.  They were supported by an eclectic talks programme and a bookshop that was the best for photography anywhere in the country.

Susan Elizabeth Davies (née Adey) was born in 1933 and had a childhood that ranged from London, Iran and New York. She attended secondary school in London. She married John R T Davies (1927-2004) the jazz musician, recording artist, producer  and sound restorer in 1954 and they had three children, Joanna, Stephanie  and Jessica. Davies worked at various magazines including the Municipal Journal  and then had a part-time job at the Artists Placement Group in London before taking a job at the ICA.

Davies joined the ICA in 1968 as exhibitions secretary. It was at the ICA where she met Bill Jay who was using it as a venue for his Photo Study Centre which held regular photography talks. The Spectrum exhibition which ran at the ICA from 3 April-11 May 1969 was a landmark event for photography in Britain examining the role of photography, 500 women photographers and showcasing individual photographers including Tony Ray-Jones, Enzo Ragazzini, Dorothy Bohm and Don McCullin.

This activity awakened her passion for photography, and a determination that the absence of a proper place for photography in Britain needed addressing. By 1970 she was planning a gallery dedicated to photography. With the agreement of her family she re-mortgaged her home and gained the backing  of people such as Tom Hopkinson and Magnum agency photographers such as David Hurn. Jay’s Do Not Bend Gallery opened in 1970 and Davies was generous to acknowledge his influence and gallery as a first, although its brief extended beyond photography to the wider arts.

12201130460?profile=originalThe Photographers’ Gallery opened on 14 January 1971. It aimed to provide a central London showcase for exhibitions of the best photography, to create a centre for the sale of photographic prints, and to offer a selection of photographic books, catalogues and magazines. It was also to act as an exchange house for exhibitions touring the continent and to initiate touring collections. The first exhibition was The Concerned Photographer curated by Cornell Capa. Following this was a show of Edward Weston’s photography, and thematic shows around industry, fashion and landscape, as well as young photographers.  As Martin Parr HonFRPS has recently commented: ‘to find a place that loved photography, it was absolutely exhilarating to go in there’.

The Gallery was set up as a charity, relaying on grant-aid and private benefactors. Hopkinson was the first chair of trustees and it was supported by an impressive roster of individuals, photographers, companies, and volunteers who made it all happen.  The premises at 8 Great Newport Street provided 3500sq.ft. of space to exhibit photography and for photographers and the public to meet and to listen to speakers. In 1980 the gallery expanded into No. 5 Great Newport Street and the freehold was purchased.

In 1972 the New York Times writing about London’s photography scene said: ‘In London's Photographer's Gallery, however, almost everything photographic is welcomed, including the kind of reportage whose only claim to attention is the interest of its subject matter...The Photographers' Gallery remains the only place in London that shows new photography regularly, and consequently, it has become a kind of catch‐all. ..And where else was it to go?

Davies’ work for photography was recognised with the Royal Photographic Society’s Progress Medal and Honorary Fellowship in 1982 and she was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours in 1988.

12201130066?profile=originalDavies was encouraged to step down as director in 1991. The British Journal of Photography suggested that the decision was, in part, based on the continual need to find funding to keep the gallery afloat. Even in 1972 Davies had said ‘we suffer from a chronic lack of money’ and this was always a challenge.  Her replacement’s first job was to deal with a dire financial situation, due, in part, to changes in how London boroughs funded the Gallery.  The BJP’s assessment of her time at the Gallery was fulsome: ‘Davies deserves the highest praise for what she has achieved in raising the profile of photography in Britain, not just via the walls of Great Newport Street, but by 20 years of example set to the many similarly successful funded galleries around the country’.  Its programming may have been mixed but at its best, as the BJP noted, ‘it was brilliant’.  

After leaving the Gallery Davies continued to be involved in photography as a visiting lecturer and curator.

The roll call of those who worked at the Gallery or took part in its activities is a long one and there are just a few personal recollections below. There are many others with their own memories of Davies and the Gallery.

Zelda Cheatle, who worked at the Gallery’s Print Room in the 1980s said : ‘it’s hard to remember that there was no photography anywhere before Sue....  she really defined British photography; but her Eastern European exhibitions by Kertesz and Brassai, etc, and Giacomelli and Fontana, and O Winston Link and so many more were brought to a British audience’.

Chris Steele-Perkins, the Magnum photographer commented: ‘Sue was responsible for encouraging young photographers as well as bringing the work of greats, like Winston Link, André Kertész, and William Klein to a British audience. For my generation TPG was like a clubhouse and I owe lasting friendships and important contacts to Sue and the atmosphere she created around the gallery. Without TPG's notice board I would never have worked on Survival Programmes.

12201130691?profile=originalThe curator India Dhargalkar who started her career at the Photographers Gallery under Davies said: ‘she was one of the most influential people in the early days of the photography art scene in the UK.  Under her direction it was a time of exciting and innovative exhibitions, opening the door to new photographers who have since become well established thanks to her support’.

Brett Rogers OBE, the current director of The Photographers Gallery, said: ‘Sue’s vision for the Gallery was rooted in a spirit of collaboration. From the outset, she gathered a group of like-minded people to work with her to ensure that TPG was first and foremost a place for photographers to exhibit, share, meet and sell their work. Equally she wanted to offer an environment to inspire, educate and inform audiences about the pivotal - and unique - role photography plays in our lives and communities.’

It can be hard, with a 2020 perspective, when photography exhibitions attract record crowds, receive massive media coverage and photography permeates our real and virtual worlds, to imagine how poorly it was seen in the late 1960s. That Davies was able to achieve so much for the public benefit, and for British photography, supported by others, is a testimony to her vision and perseverance.

It is poignant and sad that next year’s celebrations of The Photographers’ Gallery’s half century will now be held without her presence.  Her legacy is the Photographers’ Gallery and, even more importantly, the vibrant gallery scene and respect for photography that she helped to establish and define.

© Michael Pritchard


With thanks to Roxanne Maguire,  Zelda Cheatle, Chris Steele-Perkins, and India Dhargalkar.

Images: Chris Steele-Perkins HonFRPS, Sue Davies, 1982 (centre), Mayotte Magnus-Lewinska FRPS (top left); montage courtesy of The Photographers’ Gallery.


Read more here: 

The Guardian obituary:

Wikipedia page:

BBC Radio 4's Last Word: 

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12201171292?profile=originalThe V&A has announced today further details on the second and final phase of the V&A’s Photography Centre, which opens in spring 2023. The Photography Centre will become the largest space in the UK for a permanent photography collection, and the seven galleries – four of which will be new additions – will showcase the museum’s world-leading holdings and enable visitors to experience photography and its diverse histories in new ways.

The V&A has collected and exhibited photography since the founding of the museum in the 1850s, and today its collection is one of the largest and most varied in the world. Phase One of the museum’s Photography Centre opened in 2018, with three galleries designed by David Kohn. 2023 sees the completion of the second and final phase of the Photography Centre with an additional four galleries, with base-build designed by Purcell, and fit-out designed by Gibson Thornley Architects.

Two of the new rooms will showcase global contemporary photography and cutting-edge commissions in rotating displays. The other new spaces - a room dedicated to photography and the book, and an interactive gallery about the history and use of the camera – will shine a light on the processes involved in photography, as well as the study and presentation of the medium. These new rooms join the three existing galleries, with two galleries for changing displays from the collection and a space dedicated to digital media, which will also present new content.

Marta Weiss, V&A Senior Curator of Photography and Lead Curator of Phase Two of the Photography Centre, said: “Photography lies at the heart of the V&A. The museum has collected photography since 1852 and continues to acquire the best of contemporary practice. As photography plays an ever-increasing role in all our lives, the expanded Photography Centre will be more relevant than ever. We look forward to welcoming visitors to explore the medium’s diverse histories and enjoy our world-leading collection.

Highlights of the opening displays will include recent acquisitions exhibited at the museum for the first time, including works by Liz Johnson Artur, Sammy Baloji, Vera Lutter, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Tarrah Krajnak and Vasantha Yogananthan, as well as a monumental photographic sculpture by Noémie Goudal. Two major new commissions supported by the Manitou Fund will also be unveiled, with a photographic series by leading Indian artist Gauri Gill, and a digital commission by British media artist Jake Elwes. The Manitou Fund has committed to funding six commissions for the Photography Centre, which will see a new print and digital commission in 2023, 2025 and 2027. On completion, the Photography Centre will also feature new, themed displays, presenting works from the 1840s to the present day, beginning with Energy: Sparks from the Collection, exploring how all photographs need some form of energy to exist, and a smaller display, How Not to Photograph a Bulldog, featuring dog photography manuals from the Royal Photographic Society Library.

About the Photography Centre:

Phase 2 - Room 95 - Inside the Camera
Room 95 will be an interactive gallery exploring how cameras work and how they are used, from the Victorian view camera to the first iPhone. The highlight will be a walk-in camera obscura, demonstrating the optical phenomenon that is the basis of how all cameras work. A timeline of cameras will show their evolution, with accompanying animations explaining the inner workings of these iconic devices.

Phase 2 - Room 96, Room 97, The Parasol Foundation Gallery Photography Now
Two new galleries will be dedicated to showcasing recent acquisitions of global contemporary photography, including special commissions. Highlights in the inaugural display will include works by Liz Johnson Artur, Sammy Baloji, Vera Lutter, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, and Vasantha Yogananthan, all acquired with the support of the V&A Photographs Acquisition Group. A series of self-portraits by Tarrah Krajnak, acquired with the support of the Parasol Foundation Trust, will also feature. A spectacular anamorphic sculpture by Noémie Goudal will bring photography off the wall to explore both geological time and the nature of perception.

A new commission, supported by the Manitou Fund, from leading Indian photographer Gauri Gill will also be unveiled. This new body of work depicts temporary architecture on the outskirts of Delhi, ingenuously constructed by farmers from repurposed materials. The makeshift dwellings housed farmers bringing their concerns from the village to the capital, in response to new laws that threatened their economic security.

Room 98, The Kusuma Gallery - Photography and the Book
A flexible space dedicated to Photography and the Book will reflect how books have been a fundamental way of presenting photography since the 1840s. The Kusuma Gallery, which has been funded by The Kusuma Trust, will visibly house the extensive Royal Photographic Society (RPS) Library, following the transfer of the RPS Collection to the V&A in 2017. The RPS Library contains journals, books, pamphlets and manuals from all over the world, spanning topics from aerial photography to X-rays. More than 20,000 books, published over nearly 200 years, will be available to visitors by request, with a selection of browsing books on open shelves.

The Kusuma Gallery will also feature changing displays of photographic books, periodicals and archival material. The first display will be How Not to Photograph a Bulldog, a light-hearted foray into one of the many topics covered by the photographic manuals in the RPS Library.

Films about the RPS Library and photographic processes will be shown on digital terminals for visitors to enjoy. This flexible space will also be used for teaching and other programming.

Phase 1 - Room 99, The Modern Media Gallery Digital Gallery

The Modern Media Gallery continues to be dedicated to digital media, challenging definitions of what photography is and generating questions around the use of photography today. The gallery will showcase a new digital commission by Jake Elwes, supported by the Manitou Fund.

Phase 1 - Room 100, The Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery Room 101, The Sir Elton John and David Furnish Gallery - Photography 1840s-Now

Developed during Phase One of the Photography Centre, these galleries will be entirely rehung for the 2023 opening. A new display, Energy: Sparks from the Collection, will shine a light on the diverse kinds of energy in photography – both the hidden processes intrinsic to creating a picture, and the subjects in front of a camera. Featuring works from the 1840s through to the present day, it will explore how, from the advent of photography, power in all its diverse forms has sparked the imaginations of photographers.

Situated in the V&A’s Northeast Quarter, the Photography Centre reclaims the beauty of seven original 19th-century picture galleries, restoring them to their original glory and purpose. Planned in two phases, the Centre is part of the V&A’s FuturePlan development programme to revitalise the museum’s public spaces through contemporary design and the restoration of original features.

Beyond the physical gallery spaces, a key focus for photography at the V&A is research and the development of new sector-leading initiatives. A major strand is The Parasol Foundation Women in Photography Project, established in 2021 to support women in photography. Led by the inaugural Parasol Foundation Curator of Women in Photography, Fiona Rogers, and funded by Ms. Ruth Monicka Parasol and The Parasol Foundation Trust, the Project encompasses a curatorial post alongside acquisitions, research, education and public displays. The Project’s first acquisition by Tarrah Krajnak will be included in the opening display, and an exhibition presenting the work of Laia Abril will open at the Copeland Gallery in Peckham, 10-27 November 2022, in collaboration with the V&A and Photoworks.

The V&A is also delighted to announce additional support from The Bern Schwartz Family Foundation. Alongside significant funding of Phase Two of the Photography Centre, the Foundation has generously extended their commitment to a series of two-year Fellowships in photography for early-career curators until 2028. The V&A is pleased to announce the appointment of Mary Phan as the second Curatorial Fellow in Photography, supported by The Bern Schwartz Family Foundation, who will be in post until 2024.

The Photography Centre is being made possible by Sir Elton John and David Furnish, The Kusuma Trust, The Bern Schwartz Family Foundation, The Parasol Foundation Trust, Modern Media, Shao Zhong Art Foundation and many other generous supporters.

The V&A will be releasing visuals of the new spaces closer to the opening.  

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I recently discovered and subsequently fell in love with one of these cameras in a charity shop I visited back in February with my fiancée, Cat. She purchased the camera for me for a valentines gift and after a little haggling, we walked away with the camera for the princely sum of £8.  Now I didn't know a lot about these cameras at all. I remember my grandad having what was called a 'Box Brownie' (I now know there are a number of Kodak cameras that fall into this category) but all I knew as a child was that t took pictures. I remember playing with the shutter, and wondering what the red window on the back was for. Years later, I come across one and I still know very little about them. The chap in the shop took it away to inspect it and after a few minutes said it appeared to be in perfect working order, and that the film it took, 120, was still readily available. I took him at his word and scampered home to inspect my new toy in privacy. And here she is in all her glory.


Since I knew nothing about her, I decided to do a little investigation. As it turns out, she doesn't take 120 format film at all, she takes 620 format film. As you guys will know all too well, this format was special developed by Kodak for nefarious reasons to try and 'lock' the camera user to Kodak film. A neat idea, or so they thought. Unfortunately, 620 film was discontinued by Kodak some time ago, and is very rare indeed. So would I ever be able to take pictures with this wonderful machine? As it turns out, yes I can! After some more research, it turns out there are a number of possibilities to take pictures with a brownie. One way, is to re-spool 120 stock onto a 620 spool. Since I don't have a darkroom, or a changing bag, or even the knowledge of how to perform such a task, this was a no-no. And besides, I'm lazy and always on the lookout for an easier way.  Secondly, I could obtain film from someone who had already performed this task. A quick search on Ebay confirmed by suspicions. Yes, there are a few people out there who have done this, but they want an absolute fortune for the privilege! Not only am I lazy, I'm also a Yorkshireman, through and through! There must be an easy, yet cheap way. After more o-nline research it turns out, with a little jiggery pokery, you can adapt 120 film so that your Brownie camera accepts it to shoot with. To perform the task, you need to obtain some sturdy nail clippers and a fine file or sand paper. (I obtained some very cheap nail clippers and a metal nail file from a certain chemist that rhymes with 'Hoots').  First, buy some 120 stock. You'll find it's cheaper if you buy multi-packs, but being the cautious sort, I decided to buy just one roll of Ilford B & W 100 speed in case there were any issues.  Before I started I checked the retaining spring on the camera housing to make sure it was nice and tight to ensure there wouldn't be any light leaks. I took the film out of it's packet and got everything together on a nice flat surface. First, I trimmed the edges of the 120 spool to make it the same diameter as the 620 spool. There is a little lip that runs around the edges which is roughly the same size, which makes a nice guide.  After flipping the spool over and doing the other end, I carefully ran the metal file over the whole thing to make it nice and smooth. Next, I compared the spools for hight. 620 spools are ever so slightly shorter than 120 spools, so I used the file to bring them down just a little bit.  I offered the spool up to the camera to see what it was like, and what do you know, it was a perfect fit! Now I'd never used one of these cameras before, and surprisingly, details on how to load the film were pretty scarce. through trial and error, I worked out which way round the film was supposed to go and how to feed it into the take up spool.  I loaded the housing back into the camera body, and sealed it shut.  t was a little stiff at first, but I managed to wind the film onto the first frame, success! Now all I needed was a fine day and something interesting to shoot!  A couple of weeks ago, Crich Tramway Museum held a 40's weekend. Both my fiancée and I are 40's enthusiasts and I prayed the sun would be out so that the conditions for shooting with my brownie were favourable. Luckily, it was a perfect day, and my 12 exposures ran out quickly. Then it was off to my local Jessops to get them developed. What with Bank holidays and royal nuptials, it took over a week to get the photos back. Gingerly, I opened the envelope and to my utter shock, the results were stunning! Despite shaking more than Elvis in an earthquake and completely ignoring distance and speed settings, most of the pictures were crisper than a winters day!  I honestly couldn't believe these pictures were taken with a camera over 50 years old! My father has kindly offered to scan the negatives for me and I'll post the results as soon as I have them.  I've managed to obtain some expired 620 colour stock (expired in 1983!) and I'm now scanning the weather forecasts for more sun so I can shoot some more pictures with my favourite camera, there's life in the old brownie yet!

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12200987861?profile=originalBloomsbury has announced the development of a field-defining book series on photography and history which will create a platform for new visual historiographies and methodologies.

Photographs have been formative in political movements, commercial and industrial development, colonial and imperial expansion, geo-politics and international relations, legal practice, the formation of modern national and personal identities and in public narratives of the past. Volumes in this radical and original series will bring photographic practices into the centre of historical analysis and explore their integral role in global histories from the mid-19th century to the current day.

Call for book proposals:

The editors are currently seeking proposals for single-authored volumes of 80,000–90,000 words based on innovative case studies. Titles might cover a wide range of subject matters and photographic practices, but the emphasis must be on the integration and demonstration of empirical, theoretical, methodological and historiographical significance so that the volumes have the widest impact in history more generally.

Studies must demonstrate the ways in which photographs both shape and reflect historical experience and might focus on a range of processes – production, dissemination, remediation, collecting -  of the photographic within history. Exceptional PhD theses will be considered but the proposal must clearly demonstrate how the author intends to develop the work into a book.

The series will be interdisciplinary and welcomes scholars from all disciplines and backgrounds, whether historical, art historical, anthropological, sociological, history of science, archival or curatorial studies.

Series editors:

Professor Elizabeth Edwards, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK; Professor Patricia  Hayes, University of Western Cape, South Africa; Professor Jennifer Tucker, Wesleyan University, USA


Please email new proposals to Davida Forbes, Photography Editor, For more information about Bloomsbury Publishing see

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Malta: The Richard Ellis Archive 1862-1924

12200905068?profile=originalMany collectors would love to lay their hands on what is probably Malta's most precious photography collection. One of the biggest archives on the island, the Richard Ellis glass plate negatives number about 40,000, dating from between 1862, when the Englishman landed in Malta, to his death in 1924.

After almost 150 years, the name of Richard Ellis is still synonymous to photography. He was one of the first photographers in Malta, although at that time there was Orazio Agius, Preziosi and a few other Englishmen.

Richard Ellis ended up in Malta quite by chance in April 1861. He had studied photography in Paris, which was the hub of the emergent art, and came to Malta at the age of 19 with his adoptive parents, James Conroy and his wife Sara, as the family were caught up in the Garibaldian struggle. On settling in Malta, Mr Conroy opened a photo studio in Senglea and Richard Ellis acted as his assistant. Nine years later they opened a studio in Strait Street, Valletta, and in 1871 Mr Ellis left the Conroys and set up his own studio.

Apart from buildings and scenes of Malta, Mr Ellis took many photos of ships, crews and ongoing projects. His son, John, gave up a career in medicine and joined the business to help his father and produced what must be the first X-ray images taken in Malta in November 1896.

John's son, also called Richard, continued to run the business in 1931, after the death of his father. He continued to take photos just like his grandfather had done and saved the Ellis archive from devastation in World War II by moving the negatives to the safety of a Wardija home. The building in Valletta where the photographs had been stored was badly damaged.

The 261-page book, "Richard Ellis: The Photography Collection", contains over 200 photos of Valletta and Floriana, reproduced from the original glass plate negatives taken by Ellis, some of which are over 140 years old, and documents important aspects of Malta's social history, as well as the history of the Ellis family. Published in 2007, it was the first of three volumes.

According to the local artist-photographer, Patrick Fenech, there is an urgent need for a national photography museum as entire archives are being sold off abroad, one in particular was a collection of 500 photos dating back to the period between the world wars, including cameras and related paraphernalia, which was sold for only £200!

Mr Fenech has been researching The Ellis archive for three years and he claims he has not even gone through half the collection yet. His wish is to have the vast archives, including equipment and massive studio cameras, displayed – “if not in a national museum, in an Ellis Photography Museum!”

The full report can be found here, and some information on the Ellis family legacy here.



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Picture Post Historical Archive

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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12201010494?profile=originalBBC Radio 3's The Essay is running a series of five programmes each evening between 16-20 February 2015 at 2245, under the banner of 'The Five Photographs that (you didn't know) changed Everything'. The photographs being discussed are not generally found in the history books; they are not generally art; and the photographers who made them are not generally known beyond a small coterie of photographic historians.

The five photographs discussed in this series of essays changed the way we see ourselves and our place in the world. They had an enormous impact in the fields of medicine, architecture, astronomy, law and cultural history. The series has been supported and developed in association with De Montfort University's Photographic History Research Centre and The Royal Photographic Society

The programmes, with their provisional transmission dates are:

Monday 16th February.

1. A woman’s left hand.  Kelley Wilder on the x-ray that changed medicine.

The photograph of Anna Bertha Ludwig Rontgens left hand taken in 1896 astounded the scientific world and alarmed the public. For the scientists it signalled the beginning of medical radiography. For the public it gave rise to fears about intrusion and privacy in much the same way as  the introduction of the TSA  body scanner did in 2007. From medical imaging to airport security, Kelley Wilder shows how  x-ray photography changed the world.

Kelley Wilder is Reader in Photographic History,  De Montfort University, Leicester

Tuesday 17th February.

2.  . Draper’s Nebula. Omar Nassim on  how a photo of space changed our view of the universe and our place within it.

Today high-resolution  photographs of nebulae or galaxies saturate our culture to such an extent that they are almost kitsch. But  when Henry Draper took the very first pictures  of a nebula in 1880 it was one of the greatest achievements of photography.  Omar Nasim tells the story of how this photograph defied the imagination and raised questions not just about the size of the universe but about the very origins of humanity.

Omar Nasim is lecturer in the School of History at the University of Kent.

Wednesday 18th February.

3. . The Dogon.  Jeanne Haffner on how aerial photography changed the spaces we live in. The  birds-eye photograph of the Dogon tribe working their fields in Mali was taken by the French Africanist Marcel Griaule.   He’d trained in aerial photography during the first world war and he argued that the Dogon landscape, seen from the air, revealed the patterns and  secrets of the lives of its inhabitants, patterns which could teach Western city planners and architects how to build  a happier society. 

Jeanne Haffner is lecturer in the Department of History and Science at Harvard University.

Thursday 19th February.

4. The Broom cottages. Elizabeth Edwards on the photo that changed the way we see ourselves.

The man who took the photo, W. Jerome Harrison, launched a scheme for recording the country’s past in which amateur photographers up and down the land took pictures of the buildings which were important  them. Wiki-buildings and English Heritage do this now on a much grander scale. But Elizabeth Edwards argues that the mass participation of people  in defining what matters  about the past began  with Harrison, and changed the way in which a nation viewed  itself. 

Elizabeth Edwards is Research Professor of Photographic History and Director of the Photographic History Research Centre at De Montfort University, Leicester

Friday 20th February.

5. The Tichbourne Claimant. Jennifer Tucker on the photo that changed the law.

In 1863 a butcher sat for his photograph in the remote town of Wagga Wagga, Australia. Three years later this likeness had Britain transfixed.   Jennifer tucker tells the story of  how it was central to the longest legal battle in 19th century England,  and  sparked  a debate about evidence, the law, ethics and facial recognition that has continued ever since. 

Jennifer Tucker is Associate Professor of History and Science in Society at Wesleyan University, USA

The programmes will be available on the BBC iPlayer after transmission.

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