Photo archives in the UK

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Many great and iconic moments have passed and all that’s left behind are stories and photographs we can look back on. But the question remains, where can we find high-quality photographs of historical moments? No matter your intent, whether you just want to satisfy your curiosity or use photographs in your own presentations and work, you need to know how to find the photographs you need. If you are interested in finding photographs related to the UK, here is some help on where to start searching.

The Internet has made everything more accessible therefore your search for the needed photographs will be shorter and easier. Here are some of the websites you should look into on your search.

Historic Newspapers

If you are searching for a photo of a historic moment, you should always search archives of reliable newspaper or agency. Because if the event you are searching for is important, it was surely covered by the news, and they surely have a quality picture you can use. On this site, you can find old pictures of towns, villages and cities.

PA images

In this archive, you can search through more than 20 million pictures from the UK, and they are all worldwide available to licence online. From the historic to the latest events, all the photos are stored there. If you are searching for a newsworthy and memorable moment captured in a photograph, this is a place to look.

Heritage Photo Archive & Heritage Image Register

This is a free archive service where every individual as well as families, heritage groups, societies, organizations, museums and others can display and promote their heritage images of North West England, Lake District and North Wales. So if the photo you are searching for falls under this category, you know where to look.

Photographs are available for purchase at reasonable rates. Every purchase helps fund the site. However, some photos are only displayed for educational purposes, and their owners do not wish them to be copied or available for sale.

Directory of photographic collections in the UK

You can find this website to be very useful in your search. There you can find online resources concerned with all aspects of photography. Your search results will list out all the major institutions, directories, conservations and preservations, photographic societies, groups and blogs that could be useful to you and are related to the topic of your search.

Historic England

The largest photographic archive in the country, Historic England has over nine million photographs from the 1850s onwards. These photos are documenting the historic environment of life in England over the last 150 years, and show many aspects of life such as education, employment, leisure and transport.

British Library

If you are looking for a photo documented in a book, or are further interested in the history of photography and photographically-illustrated books, British Library is the place for you. Their collection of books illustrated with original photographs is among the largest collections in the world.