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St Giles Fair, Oxford, Henry Taunt 1907 ©English Heritage.NMRCollections of old photographs can give a vivid impression of an area and how it has changed. Most areas will have photographs dating back to around 1860 and prints or engravings from even earlier.

Recently there has been a boom in books of old photographs published by companies such as Phillimore . They cover most areas and can be found in libraries and in local bookshops.


Local Studies libraries are probably the most likely places to find large collections although archive offices and local museums will also generally have photographs.

The National Monuments Record [NMR] has collections of historic photographs and a comprehensive collection of aerial photographs. Photopacks on National Curriculum related topics can be purchased from English Heritage A new website, Viewfinder has a searchable database of over 30,000 captioned digital images.

Local History Societies often have large numbers of old photographs and may be identified on the Local Historian's website.

There are websites dedicated to providing sources, including old photographs, for teachers including Living Library .

Ideas for use
  • To compare places in the Victorian period or 1930s with the same place today.
  • To illustrate a timeline / teach sequencing skills.
  • To develop skill of historical interpretation e.g. identify rich and poor children from a Victorian school photograph.

See also the section on Find Sources

Follow any of the links below for more information on basic sources and ideas on how to use them

Studying Your Locality : Historic Maps : Trade Directories : Newspapers and Magazines : Government Commissions and Reports : Census : Official Guides : Estate Agent Records : Plans : Taxes and Rating Records : Probate Inventories : Church Registers

Please note that the inclusion of a listed building on this website does not mean it is open to the public.