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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 records.

General Photographic Collection

The SCRSS's general photographic collection is in the process of digitisation and is available online through TopFoto at

The general collection covers a wide range of themes. It includes images of early collective agriculture, industry, education and daily life in the new Soviet state. There are photographic records of key historical events and individuals, including the Tsarist period, the Russian Revolution, the Great Patriotic War (World War II) and the first moves into space. There is a wealth of material on cultural life - film, literature and ballet (including production photographs and portraits of key figures), Soviet posters and sport. The collection also covers cities, regions and the republics of the former Soviet Union.

Special Photographic Collections

These special photographic collections are held in the SCRSS archives. 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.

Cicely Osmond Collection

This important collection 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 comprises over 300 photographs relating to Soviet theatre in the 1920s-30s (theatrical production stills, photo-portraits of leading figures in the Soviet theatre, and snapshots of journalist Huntly Carter with Soviet actors and directors). There are also photographs of street scenes and new architecture in Soviet Russia in the same period. 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).

Visiting the Special Photographic Collections

The Special Photographic Collections are open to SCRSS members and non-members on a research basis only. Access is strictly by appointment only. Research fees and image reproduction fees apply. Please always contact the Society in advance and by email to discuss visiting the Special Photographic Collections.


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 still of Abraham Goldfaden's The Witch, directed by Alexis Granovsky (Huntly Carter Collection, SCRSS Photo Library)