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In the National Archives in Oslo there are almost 800 000 photos in more than 500 different archives (2007). The material consists of positives, negatives and dias.

Elephant in Oslo from Billedbladet Nå

The Indian elephant Letzie from Circus Berny. Photo: Billedbladet NÅ

The greatest part of the photographic material is found as parts of archives, either as single photographs that are enclosed with documents, or in their own boxes and albums within the archive. But we also have a few collections and archives that consist only of photographic material (ie Reichskommissariat Bildarchiv and Billedbladet NÅ (photographic magazine)).

The photos span from around 1860 and up until today. From around 1900 it became increasingly common that public authorities used photos as documentation. But also many private persons and businesses have left important and extensive photographic material. Today more than half of our photographs belong to private archives.

If no copies have been made, the public can use the original material in the reading room, provided that the photographs are organized and registered, and in proper condition. We only recently had a full time position on the photo archive, so we have a long way to go before we can make all material available.

To find and use photographs, you must use catalogues or inventory lists. They can be more or less detailed, and some photos that are spread around in the archives are often not mentioned in the catalogues. In Arkivverkets Felleskatalog  and Samkatalogen for privatarkiver  you can also find information about photos in the National Archives.

The public can order photographic copies for use in publications etc. If used for publishing, information on which archives the photos belong to must be given. In some cases it will be limited access to the reproduction or publishing of photos because of the interest of copyright or privacy.