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Modern Commonwealth photograph collection

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/MC

Scope and Contents

This broad heading has been used to cover a substantial collection of loose prints, dating chiefly from the period 1960-1982, but including a few of earlier date. The majority come from the files of the RCS journal known successfully as ‘United Empire,’ ‘Commonwealth Journal,’ and ‘Commonwealth,’ in which some were published, but there are also items obtained for inclusion in the exhibition ‘Commonwealth in Focus’ in 1982 and these are indicated by CIF and the catalogue number in the original typescript catalogues held at Cambridge University Library. A few photographs of non-Commonwealth countries and individuals have been included here for convenience.

There are three major groups: Commonwealth and General; Geographical; and Portraits. The first of these has material on the Commonwealth as a whole, Conferences (other than those of Heads of Government, for which see Y3011JJJ), Commonwealth-wide organisations, welfare and educational bodies. There is also a section for the United Nations and other international groupings, especially in their Commonwealth context. The Geographical section is arranged under broad areas, subdivided alphabetically by country. It should be noted that independence conferences appear with the country to which they relate, and not with more general Commonwealth Conferences. Portraits fall into five main subdivisions: the Royal family; Heads of State and Government, including State and Provincial Premiers form Australia and Canada; other political and administrative figures; academic, media and miscellaneous; historical.

Any such classification is bound to be somewhat approximate - the extent to which an individual is prominent enough in a group to justify inclusion under portraits rather than the country concerned is one example, and the Royal Family section includes scenes from Royal visits to individual countries. Numerous, but not exhaustive, cross-references have been included to counter the problem; to take one case, many of the U.N. photographs relate to Commonwealth participation, and where they show leading Commonwealth figures, these have been cross-referenced from the portrait section, but less important officials have not been so indicated.

Most of the photographs were supplied by agencies, by the Central Office of Information, or by the organisation depicted, though there are a few unattributed, and this should be borne in mind in relation to copyright permission.

It was intended that there should be scope for additions to this collection, but at the time of compilation of the list, completed in June 1988, the total, excluding exact duplicates, was 1292.


  • Creation: 1936 - 1980


Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (


1292 item(s) (1292 images)

Language of Materials



'Commonwealth in focus: 130 years of photographic history' (1982), Sydney: International Cultural Corporation of Australia.


This collection level description was entered by WS using information from the original typescript catalogue.

Date information

DateText: Date range represents the earliest and latest photograph, as dated, within the collection. Some images may fall outside this scope..


Royal Commonwealth Society

Includes index.
2006-11-03 09:33:14+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom