Picture Post Historical Archive, 1938-1957 "Post." Picture Post [London, England] 20 Apr. 1957: 3. Picture Post Historical Archive.
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Primary Sources
Nearly 40,000
Fact Sheet

Access the best of photojournalism from Britain and the world to trace events in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.

The Picture Post Historical Archive comprises the complete archive of the Picture Post from its first issue in 1938 to its last in 1957 - all digitized from originals in full colour.

Picture Post’s innovative use of photojournalism captured the imagination of the British people. In the era before television, it became the window on the world for ordinary people, bringing the major social and political issues of the day into popular consciousness.

Above all, Picture Post provides a fascinating snapshot of British life from the 1930s to the 1950s, with thousands of photos of ordinary people doing ordinary things – from boys rolling a tire, to a view of a postwar bedsit, to young women on a rollercoaster – all caught in a single moment in time.

Users can browse and search more than 38,000 pages and 95,000 articles online, gaining remarkable insight into a crucial period of twentieth-century history — from the stormy years leading up to World War II to the first decade of the Cold War. An invaluable resource for students, teachers, and researchers of media, journalism, history, and photography, the Picture Post is also a heritage collection, providing excellent, highly visual primary source material for family and local history researchers. For users that already have access to other newspapers in Gale's online collection, such as the Illustrated London News Historical Archive and The Times Digital Archive, the collection provides additional avenues and in-roads into research of the period.

The Picture Post’s liberal, anti-Fascist, populist editorial stance, coupled with candid 35mm photography by a stable of talented photographers, was a runaway success from its first issue. Circulation reached 1.7 million within its six months, and readership was estimated at 80 percent of the British population during the war years.

The magazine turned its lens on the major national and international social and political issues of the day, bringing into sharp focus
  • World War II and the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany
  • The Korean War, including coverage of South Korea's abuse of political prisoners
  • British social history from the 1930s to the 1950s, including issues around race and immigration
  • Postwar reconstruction in Britain, including the launch of the social "Plan for Britain" and the creation of the National Health Service in 1945

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Additional Details

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

Search Tips [PDF]
Middle East [PDF]
5 Things to Know [PDF]
Fact Sheet [PDF]
2013 Brochure [PDF]
PicturePost [PowerPoint]

Watch a brief overview of The Picture Post Historical Archive by Media History publisher, Seth Cayley

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Highlights Gallery

The Picture Post Historical Archive, 1938-1957 caters for all levels of cross-disciplinary research across the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities. Below is a small sample selection of research areas addressed by the archive:

Term Frequency

Researchers can now easily see the frequency of search terms within sets of content to begin identifying central themes and assessing how individuals, events, and ideas interacted and developed over time.

Term Clusters

By grouping commonly occurring themes, this tool reveals hidden connections to search terms — helping scholars shape their research and integrate diverse content with relevant information.


Integrate content from complementary primary source products in one intuitive environment to enable users to make never-before-possible research connections.

Reviews & Testimonials

“I think a digital archive of the Picture Post is a fantastic idea. There is a lack of such digital resources to support teaching and research in the period since the First World War. I can see ways of integrating this digital archive into my undergraduate courses on 20th century Britain and on visual culture and as the basis for undergraduate dissertations on a range of different topics.”

Dr Matt Houlbrook, lecturer in modern British history, Magdalen College, University of Oxford

“. . . This archive from Gale Digital Collections comprises complete, high-quality digital facsimiles of all Liberty issues. Its importance as a resource for students of 20th-century American history and culture cannot be overstated. . . . Summing Up: Highly Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty; general audience.”