Photo societies

This guide was last updated in 2009

Your photographer ancestor might have been a member of a group or society.

The Royal Photographic Society, for example, has membership lists dating back to its formation in the 1850s.

Information about the numerous local photographic clubs and societies that mushroomed after the 1880s might also be held in local studies libraries. The major trade organisation for photographers, the British Institute of Professional Photography, was founded in 1901. Unfortunately however, while its archives are preserved, they are not currently accessible to the public.

Histories of the local area may mention the business, and local newspapers may well contain relevant articles and advertisements and even an obituary if your photographer ancestor was a well-known local figure.

It is also worth browsing the pages of specialist magazines such as the British Journal of Photography, which regularly published interviews with prominent members of the photographic community. Trade magazines such as the Kodak Trade Circular are another valuable source of information. Local libraries will hold copies or microfilms of local newspapers and larger central libraries may hold copies of the major photographic periodicals. There is also, of course, the British Library Newspaper archive at Colindale, North London.

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