Photographic Library

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 1837 DES/DCA/30
  • Dates of Creation
  • Physical Description
      Over 60,000 black and white prints and around the same number of negatives on glass and film.

Scope and Content

Photographs were classified under subject headings which were adapted as the collection grew and as new images were acquired. In 1948 the photographic holdings were described thus: "The collection is a continually growing collection which is intended to present in visual form examples from all fields of applied art and industrial design which are the concern of the Council."

Important components of DCA/30 are photographic material relating to the journal 'Design', from the first issue in 1949 until the 1980s, and photographic material relating to the Council's various award schemes from 1957 onwards.

This series also comprises 9 sub series

1. Print Library

2. Negatives

3. Slide Library

4. Documentation

5. Accession books

6. Photography relating to the journal 'Design'

7. Photography relating to Council Awards

8. Photography relating to publications by and about the Design Council

Administrative / Biographical History

The Photographic Library, known later as the Picture Library, was founded in 1945 and acquired around 700 prints in its first year; ten years later this number had risen to 41,000. As well as meeting the Council's own photographic requirements for exhibitions and publications, the Library lent material to the press and for educational purposes.


The photographs have been retained in their original subject heading classification.

Archivist's Note

Record created by Catherine Moriarty, with minor amendments by Sue Breakell August 2010.

Related Material

An important slide collection developed alongside the print collection numbering over 35,000 images by the early 1980s. This collection is now housed at Manchester Metropolitan University.


Moriarty, Catherine, 'A backroom service? The photographic library of the Council of Industrial Design, 1946-1965', Journal of Design History 13:1 (2000), 39-57.