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.
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
“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
- Chinese Studies
- Japanese Studies
- South & Southeast Asian Studies
- African Studies
- African-American Studies
- British Studies
- East European & Russian Studies
- Medieval & Renaissance Studies
- Western European Studies
- Gender & Women's Studies
- Humanities & Social Sciences
- Latina / Latin America / Caribbean Studies
- Middle Eastern Studies
- U.S. History
Platform Features & Tools
Researchers can see the frequency of search terms within sets of content to begin identifying central themes and assessing how individuals, events, and ideas interact and develop over time.
By grouping commonly occurring themes, this tool reveals hidden connections within search terms—helping to shape research by integrating diverse content with relevant information.
Search across the content of complementary primary source products in one intuitive environment, enabling innovative new research connections.
Reviews & Testimonials
“. . . 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.”