Michael Peto

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 254 MS 81
  • Dates of Creation
      1943-[ca 1970]
  • Name of Creator
  • Physical Description
      1 folder and ca 200,000 photographs. The records are on paper and glass and include photographs.

Scope and Content

Correspondence 1944-1955. Miscellanea 1943-1945. Photographic collection of c 200,000 original and copy prints, transparencies and glass plate and film negatives depicting scenes in locations including Israel, Korea, North Africa and India; productions by the Royal Ballet, BBC drama, and the Prospect Theatre; events such as the 1948 Olympic Games; and leading political, literary and entertainment figures including the Beatles and C S Lewis.

Nearly 500 photographs of the Beatles, many of which have not been seen before, have recently been catalogued by Archive Services at the University of Dundee. They form part of the Michael Peto collection held by the University. Consisting of 130,000 negatives and prints the collection has been sorted and many of the images digitised as part of the Visual Evidence, a project to create a database of the photographic archives of St Andrews, Dundee and Aberdeen Universities. Michael Peto, a Hungarian who came to Britain at the outbreak of the Second World War, was a charismatic individual who persuaded many famous but private figures, such as CS Lewis, to allow him to photograph them. The Beatles images are particularly striking, many of them show the four in informal poses relaxing or on the sets of their films. Other significant images in the Peto collection include scenes from the 1948 Olympic Games and Royal Ballet productions and shots of many of the leading political, literary and entertainment figures of the 1950s and 1960s. Around 22,000 images from the collection can be viewed on the Visual Evidence website at www.visual-evidence.ac.uk.

Administrative / Biographical History

Michael Peto, photographer, was born in Bata, Hungary on 2 June 1908. On completion of his secondary education Peto worked in his father's general store, and a keen interest in arts and crafts soon developed into a business venture. It was the connection with his work in the export of Hungarian craft products that enabled him to reach Britain at the outset of the Second World War.

Peto's war years were spent in London where he became engaged in war work of national importance and was involved with the ARP. He was devoted to the establishment of a Socialist Hungary after the war and advocated an international exchange school of teachers and pupils once peace was established. He was greatly concerned with the education of both adults and children after the war and greatly favoured progressive education systems. Peto was a strong supporter of A S Neill and became involved with Summerhill School in 1944.

Peto developed his skills in photography and graphic art after technical instruction from Ervin Marton. He was concerned to achieve his own personal style and eventually became a renowned photographer. He died on 25 December 1970.


Records are arranged within series.

Access Information

Open for consultation subject to preservation requirements. Access must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act and any other appropriate legislation.

Acquisition Information

Michael Peto's collection of photographs and letters was donated to the University of Dundee in 1972.


Fonds level description compiled by Sarah Chubb, Archives Hub Project Archivist, January 2002.

Other Finding Aids

A descriptive list is available for the non-photographic material. There is no list for the photographs, but a searchable image database is available on the Internet at www.visual-evidence.ac.uk.

Alternative Form Available

No known copies.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction is available subject to preservation requirements. Charges are made for this service, and copyright and other restrictions may apply.


None expected.

Additional Information

The material is original.