World War I British press photograph collection

A sampling of images depicting multi-faceted views of World War I, originally distributed by the British government during the war to diplomats overseas for use in official projects.

The collection consists of photography of every aspect of World War I - from cadet training to soldiers' graves. Every theatre of war is represented, but the majority of prints were taken in Europe, particularly on the battlefields of France and Belgium. In Britain, there are prints of Gibson Girls welding ships or carting coal. There are prints of royalty and military commanders, including Greek, Belgian and Japanese aristocracy. The technology of war is illustrated in the numerous prints of planes, ships, tanks and guns of all kinds. The collection is strong in portraying the average "Tommy" and his role in the war.

The British Press were given permission to photograph British activities in World War I. Most of the prints are stamped "Passed for transmission abroad" by either the Ministry of Information, Photographic Section or the Associated Illustration Agencies. Although specific photographers are not mentioned, there is a note on the back of most photographs stating, "Please acknowledge "British Official" - Crown Copyright Reserved."

In the 1930s, the UBC Library received from the British Consulate in Seattle a set of approximately 6,000 photographic prints depicting multi-faceted views of World War I. These images were distributed by the UK Government to British diplomats overseas for use in official projects. Originals for these print copies and many more World War I images are housed in Britain's Imperial War Museum (IWM, Researchers interested in these and other World War I images are encouraged to come to Rare Books and Special Collections to view the rest of the collection and they can also refer to the IWM Photograph Database.

Call number: RBSC-ARC-1636
UBC catalogue record: