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Historical Photographs of BC and Yukon

A collection of more than 250,000 black and white negatives and prints.

Search Digitized Historical Photographs Order Historical Photographs About the Historical Photographs Collection

The online Historical Photographs Database provides access to over 30,000 images; this number continues to grow as more images are scanned and added to the website. For those images not yet digitised, access is by using a card index in the Special Collections Department Reading Room known as The Historical Photographs Card Index. Photocopies of some of these images may be viewed in albums in the reading room. However, the majority of the images are available in negative format only and will need to be viewed on the light table. Special Collections staff will assist with this.

A helpful resource when researching photographs is our collection of British Columbia City Directories. Special Collections has the complete collection of B.C. city directories, covering 1860-2001,  available on microfilm (please note that the Vancouver directory ceased publication in 1996).   Currently we have the 1860-1955 city directories available online. To access the online directories click here.  The online directories are also available from the VPL page: simply click on Search VPL.ca  at the top of the page and then type BC City Directories into the search box.

Other specialised collections in Special Collections include the Northwest History Collection, our local history collection;  a selection of rare books, including locally produced finepress books; and the Marion Thompson Collection of Books for Children.

The Commons on Flickr

Vancouver Public Library is contributing historical photographs to The Commons on Flickr, which contains images from photograph collections around the world.  For VPL photos see: VPL Photostream.

The objectives of The Commons are:

  • To increase access to publicly-held photograph collections
  • To provide a way for the general public to contribute information and knowledge

The photographs from VPL's collection that are featured on The Commons are either in the public domain and are therefore free of copyright restrictions, or the VPL owns the copyright and is willing to make the photographs available for personal or research use.


Vancouver Public Library, Special Collections
350 West Georgia St., Vancouver B.C. V6B 6B1
Telephone: (604) 331-3603
Historical Photographs Telephone: (604) 331-3776

SPECIAL COLLECTIONS HOURS: Mon-Sat  10:00am-6:00pm; Sun: 11am-6:00pm

Special Collections photographs on: