The Royal Photographic Society has digitized its archive and made issues of its magazine, the RPS Journal, free to read online. Visitors to the Society’s website will be able to read issues dating right back to the first magazine that was published on 3rd March 1853. The frequency of publication has varied slightly over the years, but the RPS claims The Journal is the longest continuously published photographic periodical in the world. The current format of the magazine is published six times a year, and the free archive covers 1853 to 2018, said to be over 30,000 pages of searchable articles packaged into 158 volumes of publications.

Discussion in 1853 of a binocular camera to get over the narrow field of view of current lenses. Click to enlarge.

The RPS covers a full range of photographic interests from professional, technical and scientific to pure enthusiast and artistic, and that breadth is reflected in the content of The Journal. It was the end of 1800’s before pictures appeared — and even then they are drawings of the photographs due to be shown in an exhibition — and members had to wait until the 1920s before photographs were able to be printed on the pages.

2014 was clearly a low point for The Journal, as it allowed any idiot to write about their favourite camera. Click to enlarge (and see the joke).

The Journal’s archive is a fantastic record of photographic technology as well as of changing styles and the growth of popularity of photography as a pass-time as well as a profession. Its advertising pages give us a running commentary of camera equipment and consumables over the last century and a half, regular picture-based features chart movements in technique and art, while the search feature will take you directly to coverage of major, and minor, photographers since the beginning of photographic time. You can even find results under ‘Demolder’! For more information see the Royal Photographic Society’s website.