Picture research

Guide to finding photographs, illustrations and other images in the State Library of Victoria's collections

Images in newspapers

Newspapers are a huge source of pictures. The research guides How to find newspapers and How to find items in newspapers cover just about everything you need to know about finding what you need in newspapers.

Illustrations in printed newspapers

If you are looking for a known picture (of yourself, or a relative for example) featured in a news article, you need to keep the following in mind:

  • newspaper indexes do not index the image itself, only the article (if any) that accompanies it.
  • search for the picture by what you know about it, for example, the name of the person, what event was being reported, and so on.
  • use the indexes described in the newspapers research guide referred to above.

Illustrations in digitised newspapers

  • a search of online newspapers will find terms within the text of captions to images, as well as in the body of the text of any accompanying article.
  • if the photograph was not captioned or a reference to it does not appear anywhere else in the accompanying article, then you are not going to find a reference to the picture.
  • using the newspaper archive on Trove you can refine your search results by clicking on the 'Illustrated' facet in the left hand 'Refine your results' column.
  • in the London Times (online access to registered Library users), you can limit the search by 'picture gallery' to find only the articles accompanied by pictures.

19th century illustrated newspapers

Engravings from a number of 19th century illustrated newspapers have been digitised and are available on our online catalogue. You can browse by entering a publication title from the list below or search using the term illustrated newspapers and the 'in user tags' option of the Advanced Search screen:

Australasian Sketcher, 1873 – 1889
Australian Pictorial Weekly, June 1880- July 1880
Illustrated Australian Mail, 1862
Illustrated Australian News, 24 Jan 1863 – 1 Jul 1896, 24 Jan 1852 – 6 Aug 1853 , Jan 1858 – Feb 1858
Illustrated Melbourne Post, 1863 –1868
Melbourne Punch, 1855-1856
The News Letter of Australasia, 1856-1862
Police News, 1876-1877
Illustrated Melbourne News Jan 1858- Feb 1858
Illustrated London News 1842-

If you wish to view the accompanying articles, use the microfilmed newspapers which are available in the Newspapers & Family History Reading Room at the State Library.

Illustrations in books

Heavily illustrated books in the general and La Trobe collections can provide access to a great deal of useful material. To find these:

  • choose the online catalogue
  • the 'Simple search' (which is the default) will search all search terms, and in subject

Examples of headings could be

  • Bushrangers pictorial works 
  • Fashion pictorial works
  • Political posters pictorial works

Digitised books

The illustrations of a number of plate books (books that are made up of original engraved or lithographed illustrations) from the Rare Books Collection, have been digitised. These can be searched on the online catalogue

Examples of books containing views of Victoria:

Examples of books containing narratives of voyages etc:

Examples of works on natural history:

Gould's birds


John Gould, Nestor productus, 1837, lithograph with hand colouring, in Birds of Australia, and the adjacent islands (1837-1838), [London]: Printed by C. Hullmandel, [1837]