Photographs

Kresen Kernow holds hundreds of thousands of historic images of Cornwall and of people and events connected to Cornwall. Some of these images are glass negatives, others are engravings, prints and postcards. Some are glued into albums, others are loose in wallets and envelopes.

Many of the pictures have come to us through individual family collections. We also have the collection of press photographer George Ellis which contains over 100,000 glass negatives.  Ellis came to Bodmin from London at the outbreak of World War II and stayed, photographing north and east Cornwall and its people throughout the war and into the 1970s.

The Historic Environment Record also contains thousands of images of the historic buildings and features which dot the Cornish landscape. These include images of bridges, windows, bunkers and crosses, as well as an extensive collection of aerial photographs.

Digitising our image collection is an on-going project, partly carried out by volunteers. Currently we are prioritising our fragile glass negatives to make them more accessible, although lots of other digitised items are also regularly added to the website. You can browse our digitised images here.

Key search terms: album, photograph, postcard, slide, negative, choose ‘photograph’ in format

Recommended read: A Cornish camera by George Ellis and Sarah Foot, 1982

Watch: you can watch films about many items in our collections, including early photographs, on our YouTube channel.