Photographs

The Cornish Studies Library (CSL) holds an extensive photographic and postcard collection. Some of the key parts of it are outlined here. 

George Ellis Collection

Continue reading

The CSL acquired George Ellis' collection of over 100,000 glass plate negatives in the early 1980s following his retirement. Fleet Street trained, he came to Bodmin from London at the outbreak of war and stayed, photographing Cornwall and its people through the war and into the 1970s, covering all manner of places and events for local newspapers.

The collection includes the central Cornwall area, taking a line roughly from Newquay to Mevagissey on the western side and Camelford to Looe on the east, but the photographer travelled the length of Cornwall at different times.

His original job ledgers may be consulted by arrangement and positive images can be viewed on microfilm.

The CSL has collected picture postcards for about thirty years and now has a substantial collection. These can be viewed in albums, where the cards are sorted by place, alphabetically by parish. Filed with them are several thousand postcard-size reference prints from the CSL's collection of photographic negatives of places in Cornwall.

Other albums of photos and postcards are divided by subjects. For instance there are many albums of mining photographs, churches and chapels, others of maritime scenes, railways, etc.

The CSL also holds a modest collection of engravings, interesting as they pre-date photography so are often some of the earliest known views of an area.

There are also photographs, postcards and prints in many of the collections at Cornwall Record Office. You can search for these on the online catalogue.

The library has begun moves to digitise its collection. This is an enormous task that will take some years to complete. However, a preliminary project has digitised about 3000 images from the collection and these can be viewed at http://www.cornwallphotoimagebank.org.uk/.

We can also provide scans and prints from other images in our collection, although there is a charge for this service (£6 for a scan or £8 for a print), please contact us for further details. If you intend to publish the image please contact the Principal Librarian about copyright issues and charges.

Please visit our mystery photos page to see a selection of those images we have been, as yet, unable to identify. Feel free to email us with any thoughts.

The CSL has a substantial collection of images but we always welcome new additions. If you have interesting photographs you do not wish to part with, perhaps you would be willing to lend them to us for copying. Please contact us for details.