How to find items in newspapers

Finding newspaper articles, images and more using databases and indexes

Images in newspapers: a guide

Images in newspapers before the 20th century were not common. Most 19th century newspapers were dense with small font text. Some drawings were used for advertisements. A few newspapers featured a lot of illustrations. These are generally known as 'Illustrated Newspapers'. These were monthly or weekly publications. See Illustrated Newspapers for a list of titles held by the State Library of Victoria.

Photographs did not appear in Australian newspapers until about the 1880s. The Sydney Mail on the 15 September 1888 published possibly Australia's first press photograph,  an image of a railway accident in Young, NSW.

It was a long time before photographs were a regular feature of Australian newspapers, especially rural and suburban newspapers. The Melbourne Herald, Table Talk and Melbourne Punch were among the earliest Victorian newspapers to feature photographs.

You can find out more about images in newspapers and other Library collections in our comprenehsive Pictures Research Guide.

Images online

Some online newspapers are 'virtual replicas' of the original printed editions, or the microfilm copies. The captions, or words in accompanying articles can be searched by keyword in most online virtual replica newspapers.  See newspaper formats for a guide to virtual replica newspapers.

A large number of images from illustrated Australian newspapers are available through the Pictures tab on the Library's catalogue. Use the search term Illustrated Newspaper File and you will find a very large number of digitised images. For more precise searching  use the phrase 'Illustrated Newspaper File' and add relevant key words, e.g. 'Illustrated Newspaper File' and 'Collins Street'.

Images in print or microfilm editions

Some newspapers have indexes to images. Most of these are 19th century and early 20th century newspapers such as the Illustrated London News. Indexes for illustrated newspapers held by the Library are tagged Newspapers Indexes Illustrations.

Image searches in text file newspaper databases

Text file newspaper databases do not contain images but articles which had an accompanying image can be identified by an image note. This can be useful if you are looking for articles on a topic or a person and need to establish if there was an accompanying image. The print or microfilm copies can then be used to view the images.

This example is an illustration note from an article on Proquest Australia and New Zealand Newsstream

Proquest ANZ newsstand Illustration index

Images in colonial newspapers

Index to imagery in colonial Australian illustrated newspapers by Peter Dowling is a 2 volume index arranged by subject and creator. It indexes the Illustrated Australian News (1861-96), Illustrated Melbourne Post (1862-68), Illustrated Sydney News (1864-94) and Australasian Sketcher (1873-89). Many of these newspapers are available to view online. Mircofilm copies of these newspapers are available at the Library - search the catalogue by newspaper title for information about access.