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SCRSS Soviet Collections: Photo Library

About the Photo Collections

The SCRSS Photo Library holds over 60,000 images covering all aspects of social and cultural life in Russia and the former Soviet Union from pre-1917 to the present. It offers an invaluable visual resource for publishers, picture researchers, designers and drama students, and is backed up by the excellent SCRSS Library and Archive.

The SCRSS Photo Library was established in 1943, when Britain and the Soviet Union were allies in the fight against Nazism. The war produced a galaxy of brilliant Soviet war photographers whose pictures were sent to the Society for use in exhibitions and fund-raising events to support the war effort. In the post-war years the SCRSS Photo Library continued to receive photographs from the Soviet Union on all aspects of Soviet life. It grew further with the donation of the important Cicely Osmond and Huntly Carter Collections covering the 1920s-30s. It also includes the Society's own photographic archive.

Special Photographic Collections

These special photographic collections are open to researchers by appointment. With the exception of the SCRSS Photo Archive, they are fully digitised, but not available online. The Society can provide publishers with low-resolution thumbnails by email to aid selection. See Research in the Photo Library below.

Cicely Osmond Collection

This important collection was received in the late 1980s. It provides a detailed visual account of everyday life in the Soviet Union during the 1920s-30s, with particularly rich material on Soviet education and training. Find out more about the collection.

Huntly Carter Collection

This important collection includes photographs of Soviet avant-garde architecture, theatre productions and theatre design. Find out more about the collection.

SCRSS Photo Archive

This collection holds the Society's own photographic record of events and personalities from the 1940s to the present. Find out more about the SCRSS Archive (including non-photographic records).

General Photographic Collection

The SCRSS's general photographic collection is in the process of digitisation and is available online through TopFoto at However, if you can't find what you need, please contact the SCRSS direct for advice.

The general collection covers a wide range of themes. It includes images of early collective agriculture, industry, education (such as Makarenko's famous school for juvenile delinquents) and daily life in the new Soviet state. There are photographic records of key historical events and individuals - from the Russian Revolution to the raising of the Red flag over the Reichstag in 1945 and the first moves into space. There is a wealth of material on cultural life - from production photographs of the first performances of Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk to portraits of Anton Chekhov and his wife. Film, literature, ballet, Soviet posters, the Tsarist period, sport, cities, regions and the republics of the former Soviet Union are also all here.

Visiting the Photo Library

Research in the Photo Library

The SCRSS Photo Library is open to SCRSS members and non-members on a research basis - by prior appointment.

See Research Fees, Terms and Conditions on the SCRSS Library and Archive page. Note: Separate fees apply for image reproduction.

Please contact the SCRSS for further information.

Opening Hours

The SCRSS Photo Library is open by appointment only.

Office opening hours: Monday-Friday, 10.00-13.00 and 14.00-18.00.

Please note research opening hours in the SCRSS Soviet Collections: Fees, Terms and Conditions sheet.


Yuri Gagarin, Soviet cosmonaut (SCRSS Photo Library)


Related Links

Library & Archive


Vladimir Mayakovsky in Mexico, 1925 (SCRSS Photo Library)


German invasion of the USSR: Operation Barbarossa, 1941 (SCRSS Photo Library)


Locks 7, 8 and 9 on the White Sea Canal (SCRSS Photo Library)


Production photograph of Abraham Goldfaden's The Sorceress, directed by Alexis Granovsky (Huntly Carter Collection, SCRSS Photo Library)