Skip to Main Content
The Library is open 24/7

The Library: History

Image databases

Copyright guidelines

Copyright aware

Copyright Aware is a BBC website explaining what copyright is and gives guidance on how you can protect your own creative work and how to use other people's work legally.

Free media archives

AP Archive

AP Archive is the film and video archive of The Associated Press (AP), one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent news gathering. The collection includes over 1.7 million global news and entertainment video stories dating back to 1895.

British Pathé

British Pathé is one of the oldest media companies in the world. By the time Pathé finally stopped producing the cinema newsreel in 1970 they had accumulated 3,500 hours of filmed history amounting to over 90,000 individual items. There are free "preview" facilities on this site.

British Universities Film and Video Council Moving Image Gateway

This gateway includes nearly 1,200 websites relating to moving image and sound materials, sub-divided into over 40 subject areas, including History.

Europeana Music

Europeana Music brings together a selection of the best music recordings, sheet music, and other music related collections from Europe's audio-visual archives, libraries, archives and museums. 

Film and the Historian: exploring the work of the InterUniversity History Film Consortium (IUHFC)

The InterUniversity History Film Consortium (IUHFC) pioneered the study and use of film in history. These films, mainly utilising newsreel footage, included themes ranging from Stanley Baldwin and The Labour Party to The Spanish Civil War and Fascism. To view the films you will need to choose Leeds Beckett University from the drop-down list.

Yorkshire Film Archive

The Yorkshire Film Archive is a registered charity which finds, preserves and provides public access to moving image made in or about the Yorkshire region.

Video and audio databases

Free historical image websites

British Library Photostream

The British Library has uploaded one million public domain scans from 17th-19th century books to Flickr. The images are maps, geological diagrams, illustrations, comical satire, illuminated and decorative letters, illustrations, landscapes, wall-paintings and more scanned from 65,000 volumes held by the British Library and they can be used and adapted for any purpose.

British Museum

Online database of the British Museum's Collections, including more than 800,000 images.

Europeana Art

Europeana Art introduces you to artists and artworks from across Europe, ranging from ancient Roman sculpture to modern design.

FOBO: From Old Books

Over 3,500 high-resolution images of pictures, engravings, and extracts scanned from old rare antique and vintage books. Medium-resolution images are can downloaded and used freely without copyright restrictions.

Historic England ViewFinder

The photographs on ViewFinder are all held in the Historic England Archive. They date from the 1850s and are a resource for people interested in England's social, industrial, architectural and archaeological history.

Imperial War Museum

Images primarily focused on Britain and the Commonwealth, from World War I to the present. Many images may be downloaded and used for educational purposes only. The rights must be checked for each individual image.

Leodis: a photographic archive of Leeds

Leodis is an online photographic archive containing over 59,000 images of Leeds, old and new. It is managed by the Leeds Library and Information Service. As well as photos there are also 5,500 playbills from the library collections offering a unique view of theatre life in Leeds from 1781 to the 1990s.

LIFE Photo Archive

Search millions of photographs from the LIFE magazine's photo archive, from the 1750s to today. Images include famous personalities as well as photos of historical and cultural events.

MPL: Motoring Picture Library

Housed at Beaulieu’s National Motor Museum, the Motoring Picture Library covers all automotive aspects from 1880s to the present day, with over 1 million images in their world-renowned collection. Images include motorsport, supercars, commercial vehicles and the social history of motoring, plus promotional materials such as posters and brochures.

National Archives Image Library

Browse or search over 70,000 digitised images spanning hundreds of years of history from The National Archives' unique collections, from ancient maps to iconic advertising. Images are hallmarked but are still a great record of historical images.

National Trust Images

Offers free low resolution downloads of prints, painting, and photographs related to historic gardens and estates that are under the National Trust’s care.

Prints and Photographs Online Catalog

PPOC contains catalogue records and digital images from the Prints & Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. While international in scope, the collections are particularly rich in materials produced in, or documenting the history of, the United States and the lives, interests and achievements of the American people.

Queen Victoria's Journals

Queen Victoria was an avid journal writer and described her daily life not only in writing but also in drawings and watercolours. A keen artist from an early age, the Queen made numerous sketches of her homes and family, the places she visited and the people she met. A selection of her works is presented here.

V&A Images

 Over 783,000 images from the V&A collections.

Wellcome Images

 Thousands of freely licensed digital books, artworks, photos and images of historical library materials and museum objects.

You may also find the Images page on the Art subject guide useful for visual art websites and databases.