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British Library


The Great Heap 2,000,000 Tons ... Digital ID: 1939258. New York Public Library
'The Great Heap 2,000,000 Tons of Guano, Chincha Islands.'
Rays of Sunlight from South America/photographs by Alexander Gardner (1865)
Courtesy NYPL

Photography Collections

The British Library possesses a unique visual photography archive of major documentary and artistic importance.
Despite the documentation of isolated areas of these holdings, much of the Library’s photographic collections remain uncatalogued and unexploited. In a three-year project funded by the Jerwood Charity, the Library’s photographic collections - with their broad geographical scope and diverse range of subject-matter - will progressively be made available through an integrated catalogue.
Extensive collections of photographs are held in all departmental areas of the Library, with particularly strong coverage of India and Asia, the 19th-century photographically illustrated book, travel, European topography and portraiture.
The British Library holds a comprehensive collection of albums and photographically illustrated books on Latin America and the Caribbean.


The photography catalogues provide a detailed searchable database for locating photographs, photographically-illustrated books and texts relating to photography held in all departments of the British Library.
Please note that the catalogue is a work in progress, it is updated on an ongoing basis and new material will regularly become available online.
An online gallery of historic photographs can also be consulted.

Opening Times and Admission

Monday-Thursday: 9.30-20.00
Friday-Saturday: 9.30-17.00
Delivery of items from storage areas to reading rooms normally takes between 70 minutes (onsite) and 48+ hours (offsite), depending on where they are held.

In order to register as a reader, bring with you:

  • A personal identification and proof of  address.  
  • Full details of the items you need to see. Where possible you should provide specific references, including shelfmarks.
  • Anything which supports your application, e.g. a business card, student card or professional membership card.
Dr. Elizabeth Cooper
Curator, Latin American Collections
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB United Kingdom
Tel:   +44(0)20 7412 7709 
Fax: +44(0)20 7412 7563

Switchboard: +44 (0)870 444 1500


Defensores de la Integridad Na... Digital ID: psnypl_pho_337. New York Public Library
'Defensores de la Identidad Nacional'
Álbum histórico fotográfico de la guerra de Cuba desde su principio hasta el reinado de Amadeo I / photographs by D. Gil Gelpi y Ferro (1872)
Courtesy NYPL
Centre for Iberian and Latin American Studies, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD