Search thousands of fascinating images and connect with these snapshots of the past. This unique collection brings together original images capturing the events of the Second World War and the daily lives of ordinary people in the 1950s.The collection has been created in partnership with Mirrorpix/Reach PLC and features the work of renowned photographer Bela Zola, as well as photographs from Library and Archives Canada. You can search the photos by keyword; such as war, boxing, 1920s, Home Guard, Arsenal, women, etc. You also have the option search just by year, subject or country. Use the arrows on either side of the photo to discover more.
Every photograph tells a different story whether it is a picture of Emmeline Pankhurst leading a woman’s march or a sports day from a school in Birmingham. The information with each picture will depend on the event captured and the age of the picture. All the pictures are displayed with a transcript which shows:
Place and country
Details or description
Use the arrows on either side of the photographs to view more images. Many of the photos have been digitized to display the original caption created by the photographer or editor at the time the picture was taken.
Findmypast is thrilled to bring you this unique collection of press photography. The collection was created in partnership with the Mirrorpix/Reach PLC and feature pictures captured by the newspaper group’s photographers. Many of the images have been scanned and digitised for the first time.
A variety of countries and theatres of conflict are covered including the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States, Canada, Burma, Italy, Nigeria and the Netherlands. Highlights include a large number of never before seen images of wartime London, Liverpool, Birmingham and Cardiff, scenes depicting Home Guard units, members of the Women’s services, the first American GIs to arrive in Britain, the aftermath of devastating air raids, VE Day festivities and much, much more.
The subjects include armed forces/war, World War 2 home front, evacuees, sport, school, work and others. You can discover pictures from the front lines, images of British people contributing to the war effort, photographs of the devastating effects of the Blitz, and more. The collection also includes pictures from sporting events and teams as early as the 1920s, pictures of residents featured in news stories, and images of everyday life and work.
The photographs were captured by photographers who worked for newspapers which are a part of the Mirror Group. We sourced photographs from the following newspapers:
Liverpool Echo, Coventry Evening Telegraph, Birmingham Evening Mail, Birmingham Post, Manchester Evening News, Daily Mirror, Scottish Daily Record, Sunday Pictorial, Sevenoaks Chronicle
The Daily Mirror pioneered the use of photography in news reporting, re-launching as a daily picture paper in 1904 to serve an untapped market interested in more accessible photo-illustrated news stories. The success of The Daily Mirror’s innovation led to many other publishers quickly following suit and in no time national and local newspapers across the UK were covering events large and small in both words and pictures.
Historical photographs not only provide rare windows into the world in which our ancestors lived, but they also give the past a human face, allowing for far deeper connections with those who came before and a greater appreciation of the stories they left behind.
Bela Zola and The ‘Life in the Mirror’ Collection
The Findmypast Photo Collection also incorporates photographs from the ‘Life in the Mirror’ series, brought to you in partnership with Mirrorpix/Reach plc.
The ‘Life in the Mirror’ series features photographs taken by Hungarian born photographer Bela Zola (1910-1981), who captured the daily lives of people across Britain and beyond in the late 1940s and 1950s. The photographs appeared as a dedicated page in the Daily Mirror, and led to Zola winning first prize in the General News section of the World Press Photo competition in 1956.
The ‘Life in the Mirror’ collection features candid photographs of a country attempting to get back to some kind of normalcy following the devastation of the Second World War, showing children playing amongst London’s bombsites, shoppers in the East End, dockworkers in Sunderland and holidaymakers in North Yorkshire. It captures Britain at work and at play, in scenes that highlight the differences between then and now: housewives receiving their coal on the streets of Stanleytown, Glamorgan, blocks of salt being sold in Stratford-upon-Avon by a ‘salt hawker’, and children paddling in the waters of the River Thames at the Pool of London.
The collection encapsulates the changing face of Britain, too. Bela Zola photographed worshippers at the Peel Street Mosque in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, immigrants from India at an East London flea market, and refugees from Estonia fleeing from Soviet oppression. Zola travelled beyond Britain too to photograph industrial scenes in Germany, and racial segregation in South Africa.
The ‘Life in the Mirror’ series does name some of its subjects, and provide ages for them too, although such named pictures are in the minority. We have transcribed these names and ages where available, and have provided the address of the location of the photographs, again where available.
Bela Zola was born to Hungarian parents in Cairo in 1910. The family eventually settled in the United Kingdom, where Zola’s interest in photography saw him join the Daily Herald. There he worked as an assistant for the photographer James Jarche, where he learnt valuable lessons in the art of photography, such ‘as the greatest part of your whole equipment has nothing to do with your camera, it's to do with your own eyes.’
On the outbreak of the Second World War Zola joined the army, where his background in photography saw him appointed to the Army Film and Photographic Unit No.1. Coincidentally, the unit was based in Zola’s birthplace of Cairo, where he covered the war in the Western Sahara. As part of his position, he captured material for Parade, the armed forces propaganda magazine for the Middle East. Parade proved to be a medium for reporters and photographers to cut their teeth on before joining the national press, and when Zola was demobbed from the army he joined the Daily Mirror.
At the Daily Mirror Zola, amongst other press photographers, would be excepted to capture a range of ever-changing material, from fashion pieces to developing stories. In recognition of his work, he was given his own page by the Daily Mirror, his ‘Life in the Mirror’ series.
Beyond the ‘Life in the Mirror,’ Bela Zola found fame in the 1960s for capturing the rise of the Beatles and ‘swinging London.’ He also captured the tragic aftermath of the Aberfan mudslide, as well as anti-war demonstrations in London, and the key players of the Profumo affair. Bela Zola finally retired from the Daily Mirror in 1975 after thirty years of service.
Start your search with a simple keyword or year
To search the ‘Life in the Mirror’ collection, simply enter the term ‘Bela Zola’ in the keywords field
Use the arrow to the right of the image to discover if there is an original caption available. The caption will give you even more details about the picture.
If you want to know more about the photo, try searching the newspapers. The photographs were captured by newspaper photographs so you can bet that there is a news story.