Royal Commonwealth Society Photograph Project

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Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) Photograph Project

The RCS Photograph Collection contains over 100,000 images from all over the world, dating from the mid-1850s to the mid-1980s. These images provide insight into the history of the Commonwealth and document developments in a wide variety of fields including medicine, education and industry. The RCS Photograph Project aims to promote access to this collection by means of a web-searchable catalogue (created to international archive standards) and an online gallery.

RCS Photograph Gallery This gallery only contains a sample of the many images held by the RCS Library and seeks to demonstrate the richness and variety of photographs contained in the collection. It includes about 700 digitised images, dating from the late 19th century to the mid-1980s, with a wide-ranging subject matter, including royal tours; trade, industry and agriculture; immigration; education and health; family life and recreation.

The photograph titles (other than those enclosed in square brackets) are the titles given by the photographer or original collector. Many use terms that are no longer considered acceptable, but the titles have been preserved in this gallery as they convey a sense of the time and the attitudes of the people involved.

About the Royal Commonwealth Society:

From its foundation in 1868, the organisation known successively as the Colonial Society, Royal Colonial Institute, Royal Empire Society and finally the Royal Commonwealth Society, amassed a library on the British Empire, the Commonwealth and member countries (together with smaller collections on the empires of rival nations) - an astonishing range of books, pamphlets, periodicals, official publications, manuscripts and photographs. The collection now consists of over 300,000 printed items, over 600 archival collections (including manuscript diaries, correspondence, pictures, cine films, scrapbooks and newspaper cuttings) and over 100,000 photographs.

At the beginning of the 1990's, it appeared that the Society would be forced to break up and sell the collection. A £3 million appeal launched in 1992, with the Prince of Wales as Patron, saved the Library for the nation and enabled it to be moved to Cambridge University Library, where it is available to all bona fide researchers.

This collection holds public low-resolution images. DSpace also stores high-resolution versions of these images for the purpose of digital preservation, however, these are not accessible by the public.

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For more information on the history of the special collection, please see: A History of the Royal Commonwealth Society Collection.


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