Illustrated London News Historical Archive, 1842-2003

"The Illustrated London News Festival of Britain." Illustrated London News [London, England] 12 May 1951: n.p. Illustrated London News.
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Approximately 260,000
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Experience three centuries of British and world history through illustrations and words.

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, 1842–2003 includes every published issue, from the first in 1842 to the last in 2003. Entirely full-text searchable with new, high-quality digital imaging from flat unbound print sets, it combines information and the power of pictures to provide unique perspective on virtually every aspect of modern life and those who helped shape it over more than 160 years.

The ILN covers a wide range of subject areas in the 19th and 20th centuries making it an invaluable resource for multi-disciplinary research. Areas include:

  • The Arts - reports and pictures of prominent art figures of the 19th and 20th centuries including: opera singers, vaudeville stars, painters and stars of stage and screen
  • Discovery and Exploration - ILN readers could follow in illustration the exploits of David Livingstone in the the Congo, and at different times Stanley, Franklin and Burton and later, Shackleton and Scott
  • Fashion - the ILN's fashion column provides a unique insight into the styles of the day, from corsets through to flapper dresses. The advertising pages provide a sociological view of fashion, with adverts for mourning clothes, undergarments, evening wear, jewellery and cosmetics
  • Industry and Trade - covers the growth of the industrial North, living conditions experienced by the working man, trade imports from the colonies, strikes, child employment, domestic servants and agriculture
  • Military History - ILN war artists were sent to all corners of the earth to cover the wars of the 19th and 20th centuries including: 1848 revolution in France, the Crimean War, American Civil War, the Boer War, World Wars I and II
  • Politics - fine illustrations chronicle the great statesmen of the Victorian era – Peel, Wellington , Palmerston, Disraeli and Gladstone and their cabinets. The ILN also documents the major players during the two world wars and the years in between
  • Science, Medicine and Progress - ILN was keen to enlighten its readers about the latest advances providing engravings of the first letterbox in London, reporting of the laying of the Transatlantic telegraph cable and explanations of the workings of an early light bulb
  • Social History - illustrated coverage of servants, female suffrage, strikes, homes, crime, leisure, emigration, and religion
  • Sport - football, rugby, tennis, cricket to the more unusual cock-fighting, curling and pig-sticking
  • Transport - the ILN archive offers a comprehensive record of transport through the past 160 years including reports of the first steam omnibus, landmarks in motor car manufacture and the first historic flight by the Wright Brothers in 1903
  • Travel- global reports on people and places within the Empire and beyond.

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Additional Details

Subjects Covered
  • Asian Studies
  • Asian Studies/Civilization
  • Chinese Studies
  • Japanese Studies
  • South and Southeast Asian Studies
  • Black Studies
  • African American Studies
  • African Studies
  • Business and Finance
  • English Language and Literature Studies
  • English
  • European Studies
  • East European and Russian Studies
  • Medieval and Renaissance Studies
  • Western European Studies
  • Gender and Women's Studies
  • Hispanic / Latin America Studies
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Religion and Philosophy
  • Science and Technology
  • Social Studies
  • Liberal Studies
  • Humanities/Humanistic Studies
  • Social Sciences
  • U.S. History

Things to Know [PDF]
Highlights [PDF]
Sample Searches [PDF]
Special Numbers [PDF]
Factsheet [PDF]
Brochure [PDF]

Search the First World War archives of Illustrated London News at, created by ILN Ltd.

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Term Frequency

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Reviews & Testimonials

“Just as the ILN was in many respects a first — the world’s first regularly illustrated weekly, the first periodical to employ special war correspondents and illustrators, the first to publish colour supplements — so this archive is the first to make this groundbreaking newspaper a globally searchable (‘easy ... digital format’; ‘convenient 24/7 access’) and hence meaningfully contextualized resource.”

Dr. Bob Nicholson, the Digital Victorianist