Alvin Langdon Coburn Esq.
(at the R.P.S.)

Francis James Mortimer, exhibited 1906

RPS Collection at the National Media Museum / Courtesy of the SSPL


This is a research database of over 45,000 records from the annual exhibition catalogues of the Photographic Society, London, published between 1870 and 1915. It contains:

  • Detailed records of all the exhibits, plus information about exhibitors, judges, hanging and selecting committee members, photographs and companies
  • Reproductions of all the catalogue pages
  • All the pictures of the photographs that were printed in the catalogues, plus some contemporary illustrations from the annual publication Photograms of the Year
  • Reviews of the exhibitions from the annual publication Photograms of the Year
  • Tools for refining, printing and exporting your search results

This site was developed by Knowledge Media Design, De Montfort University. For further details, see the Credits page.

How can I use this site?

Search tips

There are three kinds of search. Using the simple search at the top left you can enter single words or simple phases, then click on the 'submit' button.

If you check the exact phrase box the search will look for exactly what you have typed. So if you type "W Fraser" it will not find entries such as "Wm Fraser" or "William Fraser".

The advanced search, to the right at the top, helps you to target your search more precisely by providing forms with many more search options than the simple search.

You can also directly search from your own desktop if you use the Firefox browser or IE7 (but not with earlier versions of the Microsoft browser) by installing a search plugin - available at the database page of

Some of the words in the database include non-English letters and accents such as á and ç. These have been left unchanged, which means that, for keyboards lacking these characters, special key combinations have to be used. You can get a simple look-up table for the most common special characters at

Spelling variations and typographical errors have been reproduced rather than corrected to preserve the integrity of the data. This has important consequences when searching for information. It may be necessary to try more than one spelling of a word to locate all its instances in the database. Where additional information, not in the original, has been added this is shown in square brackets [like this].

The way the search engine works is to look for sequences of letters that match the search query. It will look for each sequence at the begining or end of a word. So the search query "port" will also return hits such as ports, portraits, Davenport, but not sporting. This way searches will return more results than you are likely to want but will include plurals and other variations without you having to specify them exactly. On the other hand, if you search for "portrait" it will not find "port" because it searches for a match for the whole search query. For the same reason, a search for "autochrome" produces 1055 hits whereas "autochromes" only 594. It follows from this that you don't always need to type the whole word.

Search terms in the search results tables are highlighted yellow to make them easier to spot. But sometimes searches return hits that don't contain highlighted text. If there is no highlight your search term will be in the person or exhibit details. Follow the links in the table of results to see the details. For example, searching for "port" returns many exhibits that do not include the term "port" in their title. However, following the link from the exhibit title through to the exhibit details, it will be seen that these exhibits are parts of portfolios or are described as group portraits.

Refining search results

Whichever search strategy you use, on the Search Results page there is a drop-down menu option called search within results. This allows you to refine your search results by searching within them, excluding some of the results and/or searching for particular combinations of others.

You can use the search within results option as often as you like to iteratively reduce the number of hits you get.

Printing and exporting results

On the Search Results page there is a drop-down menu box that lets export your results as a spreadsheet. You can also print straignt from the page.