The Illustrated London News Historical Archive, 1842-2003.

Series: Our favourite State Library eresources.

People often ask us what our most loved eresources are. Admittedly we all have a favourite, or two, or three. It’s hard to pick as there are so many wonderful State Library eresources available. In this series our Librarians and Library Technicians share with you their most favourite eresources and how they’ve been used to solve research queries.

Next in the series we look at the Illustrated London News Historical Archive 1842-2003, a big favourite of Librarian Eileen Dwane.

So why is the Illustrated London News Historical Archive so fabulous?

Illustrated London News Historical Archive provides a fascinating pictorial and historical social record of British and world events right into the early years of the 21st century.

Best of all, you can access Illustrated London News Historical Archive 1842-2003, online from home with your free State Library membership.

Search box for database Illustrated London News Historical Archives 1842-2003.

About the database

The weekly Illustrated London News (ILN) was the world’s first fully illustrated newspaper commencing publication in 1842 and continuing for over 160 years until finally ceasing publication in 2013.

Its combination of information complemented by a range of illustrations (cartoons, charts, drawings, engravings, graphs, maps and photographs) uniquely captures the atmosphere of the times.

The range of subjects covered in the Illustrated London News is remarkable. Prominent historical figures, war, disaster, sports, fashion, advances in technology and medicine, industry and trade, archaeology, exploration, ceremonies, the arts, and more feature regularly and often in surprising detail. Family historians will delight in the detailed descriptions and beautiful engravings of migrant vessels bound for Australia as well as the occasional report of court proceedings. Whether a student/researcher or a general ‘browser’ there is something of interest for everyone.

Searching the London Illustrated News Historical Archive, 1842-2013

Search options will be familiar to users of other titles in the suite of Gale Primary Sources.

For a Basic search simply type your search terms in the search box and then select how you want the results arranged from the drop-down menu.

  • Oldest
  • Newest
  • Relevance
  • Document type

Clicking on Browse (in the tool bar under the main banner) allows selection of issues by date, either by typing in the date in the format month/day/year or by selecting the relevant date in the calendar.

To the right of the Browse button on the tool bar is a link to Research Tools where you will find links to short academic essays under headings such as “The Illustrated London News and Archaeology” and “Advertising in the Illustrated London News”. Each essay provides tips on researching these topics in the ILN and discusses the contribution the ILN has made in each of these areas and the degree of objectivity (or otherwise) in its coverage. Other topics covered in the essays are the Theatre; Representing Victorians; Celebrities and gossip columns; Disaster; Photography; Literature; Exhibitions; Museums; ‘Our Note Book’; and Sport.

Use Advanced Search and select from the listed categories to restrict your search results:

  • To a specific date or date range
  • To a publication section
  • To a type of document, e.g. advertisement, article, obituary, etc.
  • To illustrated works, including specific types of illustration

Once the item has been located you need only click on one of the options in the toolbar to cite, email, download, print or get a link to the article.

"Victoria Bridge, Queensland." Illustrated London News, 7 Nov. 1874, p. 442+.
The Illustrated London News Historical Archive, 1842-2003 database.

Although the Illustrated London News aimed at visual authenticity in its images, artists could not physically have been present as eyewitnesses at some of the events they depicted, and their images often rely on a combination of artistic creation and fact.

"The American Swimming Apparatus." Illustrated London News, 7 Nov. 1874, p. 439+.
The Illustrated London News Historical Archive, 1842-2003 database.

Through this combination of reporting and images the Illustrated London News provides a unique and often humorous perspective on British world views during the last two centuries.

Join now and start searching the Illustrated London News Historical Archive 1842-2013.

Look out for the next blog in this series #FavouriteEresources

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