These catalogues provide access to original photographs from all
departments of the British Library and to texts (manuals, journals, technical
literature, etc) associated with the history of photography. Please note that
these catalogues are part of a long-term documentation project and do not yet
represent a comprehensive listing of all photographic material held in the
British Library. If you cannot trace material which you believe to be part of
our collections, or if you have other enquiries relating to photographs in the
British Library, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or
guidance. Please also note that at present these catalogues provide a text-only
guide to the library’s holdings: it is planned to provide reference images for
selected collections in due course.
Asian photographs: The existing catalogue of photographs in
the former India Office Collections will also shortly be transferred to
these catalogues. The listings of these photographs at /catalogues/indiaofficeselect/welcome.asp will
continue to be available until this process is complete and users requiring
Indian and Asian material are requested to also check this catalogue until all records have been transferred.
Photographic material can be searched for in a number of ways:
1. Simple keyword search.
2. Advanced search for individual photographs.
3. Advanced search for photographically-illustrated books.
4. Advanced search for photographic texts.
This search, on the main page, locates matches for entered keywords
from any part of the catalogue record. Thus, entering ‘Thomson’ will return records
by photographers named Thomson, works authored by Thomson, portraits of individuals
named Thomson and any records where this word exists in indexes, captions or notes.
Records returned by this search can be filtered by type (photographic prints,
photographically-illustrated books, portrait subjects, etc), by selecting from the
‘Filter by’ drop-down list.
Searching can be carried out by:
Searches for known shelfmarks should include punctuation, i.e. 1787.d.7,
entering more than one keyword is automatically interpreted
as a Boolean ‘and’ search. Thus entering ‘Cyprus autumn camera’ will by default search
for records which contain all these words. Precise phrases can be searched for by the use
of double quotes (") at the beginning and end. Thus, entering "photography made easy"
will search for the exact phrase in the catalogue. The simple search also supports the
Boolean search term ‘OR’ (uppercase), but it does not support ‘not’. A word can be excluded from the
search by the use of the ‘-’ sign: thus, ‘Cyprus -camera’ will find all records containing
the word ‘Cyprus’, but not the word ‘camera.’
Parts of words (3 characters minimum) can be entered in conjunction with the asterisk key (*). Thus ‘Thom*’ will return all
records containing Thomas, Thoms, Thompson, Thomson, etc. Truncation can only be
used at the end of words.
Individual photographs in the collections can be located to a
greater degree of precision by using this search, in which material can be traced
by creator, subject matter, period and other physical and technical characteristics.
To access this catalogue from the main page, click on ‘Advanced search -> Photographs’ to
bring up the search page and enter criteria in the relevant fields. A single field may be
selected, or may be combined with additional terms for more specific or complex searches.
To clear data entered in these fields, click ‘Reset.’
The following searchable fields and indexes are available:
By default, the catalogue search includes all British Library collections.
Searches can, however, be restricted to specific departmental or other named
collections by selecting from the drop-down list of options.
The search field for tracing photographs from specific locations is
designed to allow the user to select the required location where more than one place with
that name might exist. Searches can be made at various levels of precision, from broad
continental areas (‘Asia,’ ‘South Asia’), by country (‘Brazil’), administrative units
(‘Hampshire’), down to specific places (‘Naples’).
Please note that the place index incorporates the comprehensive ISO world database of
countries and administrative areas, not all of which are represented by photographs in the
library’s collections. Searches on some terms will, therefore, return a negative result.
The terminology of the ISO database also reflects internationally accepted current usage.
Where this might create confusion in relation to historical place names, former usage
has also been incorporated: thus searches for either ‘Bombay’ or ‘Mumbai’ will return
the same data.
To use this search, enter the required place name in the upper box and click find.
Matching entries will appear in the lower box. If more than one entry is returned, select the
required place name by clicking on it.
Example: Entering ‘Kingston’, will return entries for Kingston (Ontario), Kingston (Somerset),
Kingston upon Hull, Kingston upon Thames. The required choice should be clicked on before
running the search.
Search results for photographs:
After entering the appropriate search terms, click ‘Submit.’ Photographs that
match the search criteria will appear in the form of brief records, listing
photograph title, photographer, portrait subject (if applicable) and date of
photograph. If desired, this list can be weeded by clicking the ‘Tag’ button next to
photographs of interest. After selecting records in this way, clicking on ‘Show Tags’
to the left will remove all untagged records; clicking on ‘Show all’
will restore the full list and ‘Clear tags’ will remove the tagged selection.
Until the advent of half-tone printing processes in the early 1880's
(and indeed for several years after their introduction), it was common practice to
illustrate published works by pasting in original photographs. Such works form an
important chapter in the history of photography and the British Library holds a major
collection of such books. This catalogue provides a detailed search tool for locating
such material and provides bibliographical and descriptive details of such works, as
well as listings of the photographs contained within them. To access this catalogue
from the main page, click on ‘Advanced search -> Photographically illustrated books’,
to bring up the search page and enter criteria in the relevant fields.
A single field may be selected, or combined with additional terms for more specific or complex searches.
Returned searches are displayed in the form of a brief
record, listing title, author and date of publication. To view the complete record,
click on ‘Full’. From this page, records for the photograph contained within the work
can be accessed by clicking on ‘Display collection.’
In addition to collections of original photographs, the British
Library’s holdings provide a major resource for the study of photography, in the
form of histories, technical manuals, catalogues, journals and other textual material.
Please note that this catalogue is in the process of compilation and at present
represents only a small proportion of material available in the library and also
contains some incomplete entries: data will be added and updated as resources allow.
To access this catalogue from the main page, click on ‘Advanced search -> Photographic Texts’,
to bring up the search page and enter criteria in the relevant fields. A single
field may be selected, or combined with additional terms for more specific or complex searches.
The following fields, either singly, or in combination for more complex searches,
are available for locating works of this nature:
Returned searches are displayed in the form of a brief record, listing title, author
and date of publication. To view the complete record, click on ‘Full’.
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