British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Visualising History Workshop

A rare workshop on British newsreels exploring their use as a historical source.

Visualising history: newsreels, digitisation and TV documentary

AHRC-funded Workshop – Institute of Historical Research, in collaboration with the University of Manchester, 15 November 2013, 10am-4.30 pm, Senate House, University of London.

This one-day cross-disciplinary workshop will explore how British newsreels have been utilised as historical sources. From the 1920s through to the 1950s, the newsreel was a mass communication medium consumed by a vast British public. Five production companies, including Pathé and British Movietone, vied for ‘exclusive’ stories that would be shown to a regular weekly audience of over 20 million people in Great Britain. Thus, an examination of the newsreels can reveal the popular obsessions of the period: from the British monarchy, to football matches and fashion shows, to exposés of the private lives of Hollywood celebrities, the newsreels are a window through which we can investigate twentieth-century social and cultural changes. Until recently, newsreels had been neglected as historical sources because they were difficult to access. However, following a number of extensive digitisation and cataloguing projects, many newsreels from 1910 through to the 1970s are now available to view online. This workshop brings together a diverse group of experts who have used newsreels to explore different aspects of Britain’s past. The ‘Visualising History’ workshop will survey the ways that newsreels have already been utilised and, through various group activities and discussions, illuminate how other researchers can benefit from using newsreels in their work.    Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Limited numbers so please register your attendance by emailing the event organiser, Ed Owens:

Speakers include:

Ed Owens (University of Manchester) is a PhD history researcher studying the effects of new media like newsreels on the relationship between the British public and monarchy in the period 1919-1969.

David Okuefuna (BBC) has been a Creative Director and Executive Producer at BBC Television for the past 16 years. He has worked on many archive-based factual series for BBC TWO and BBC FOUR, including The Edwardians in Colour: The Story of British Pathé; and Britain on Film.

Linda Kaye (BUFVC) is Research Executive at the British Universities Film & Video Council. She curates News on Screen, the leading online resource for British newsreels and cinemagazines.

Benjamin Knowles (University of Manchester) is a PhD history/film researcher and filmmaker. His research examines the relationship between historical re-enactment and historical memory.

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