British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access


The rescue scene from The Battle of the Somme, 1916 (courtesy of the Imperial War Museum Film and Video Archive)
Note: The above address is the postal one. The street address for the Film and Video Archive is: All Saints Annexe. Austral Street, London SE11 4SJ.

The Imperial War Museum’s Film and Video Archive is one of the foremost archives in the UK providing rich illustrations for military and social history from throughout the twentieth century. The Museum, conceived in 1917 as the Empire’s memorial to the sacrifice and effort of the First World War, has included a film archive from its very beginnings and now covers all aspects of conflicts – social and political as well as military – in which British and Commonwealth forces have been involved since the start of the twentieth century. Its constantly growing collection currently comprises some 20,000 unique hours of film and videotape. The collection represents a wide and diverse range of material from overt propaganda, documentaries, unedited combat film, instructional films, dramatisations and technological and public information films to travelogues, newsreels and amateur films shot by both civilians and service personnel. There are also large collections of film shot by both civilian organisations during the Second World War, such as the London Fire Brigade, British Transport Films (encompassing the then privately owned railways) and the Ford Motor Company. Two substantial collections from NATO and the UN in the former Yugoslavia are also held.
London; History; Newsreels; Railways; World War II; Newsfilm; Oral History; Propaganda; Military forces; Palestine; War damage; Aircraft; Royal Air Force; Amateur films; Commonwealth; World War I; Aviation; Film Equipment; Germany; Social History; British military forces; Civil defence; Documentary film movement; European History; Genocide; German military forces; German newsreels; Holocaust; Home Front, World War II; Home Guard, World War II; Israel; Navies and naval operations; Royal Flying Corps; Royal Naval Air Service; Soviet newsreels; Training films; Yugoslavia
As a public archive it is open to anyone with a bone fide interest. Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10.00-17.00, by appointment only. Access for disabled. There is a lift for researchers with disabilities.
Viewing on premises. All material is, in principle, available for viewing by appointment, although there may be practical problems when a film is held in a unique copy.
Charges for viewing for commercial productions. Charges for facilities and handling. A small charge is made for prolonged private viewing; details of charges, reproduction fees and commercial rates are available on request.
Mostly owned by IWM or Crown Copyright which is administered by the IWM. Some material owned by third parties is also held for which the rights have to be cleared. DTI off-air recording licence from February 1993 to record programmes that fall within the Museum’s brief and for private individual research only.

Moving Image, Audio and Related Documentation Holdings

Departmental copies are held for internal reference only.
Slade Film History Register of Newsreels (on microfiche and microfilm.) Newsreel Association of Great Britain and Ireland - Minutes of Council Meetings 1937-1960 (on microfilm).
A small exhibition of cine cameras (all gauges, including amateur) dating from 1914 is displayed in the Archive at the All Saints site. The Archive holds a number of projectors (35mm, 9.5mm, 8mm, and S-8mm). but these are mostly maintained as working units for use within the Archive. However, there are a few that are for exhibition, although currently not on display.
Bioscope (1914-1920, on microfilm); Documentary News Letter (1940-1948); Film History 1987-1990, 1993- ); Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television (1981- ); Imperial War Museum Review (1986 - ).
Original cameraman’s ‘dope sheets’ (WWII) for Army and Air Force.
Some 20,000 unique hours of film and video(as of 2005).
Practically all the material is non-fiction, and over half of it is unedited record footage, much of which is supported by dope sheets. The principal unedited holdings relate to the three British armed services in World War II, to British and German technological developments, and to Britain’s railways during World War II. Other significant subcollections are British newsreels and official films from both the world wars and German and Soviet newsreels from the World War II.


Online catalogue
Related website
Printed catalogue
First World War only available.
Card catalogue
Covers mostly Second World War collection for armed forces.

Additional Information

Vol. 1: The First World War Archive was published in November 1994. Online catalogue covers part of the collection only, the remainder being (as of 2005) on a card index.
Other information
Dope sheets are held for the British Army and RAF film unit material; shot lists for this material and some other collections are also available. Files including scripts, correspondence and other information relating to some Ministry of Information films from the Second World War are also held. The Museum’s library has a small section of books on film, propaganda, etc.
Conservation policy
The Museum does not intentionally destroy any material. Occasionally, nitrate material is found on acquisition to have deteriorated beyond redemption, but otherwise no material is destroyed uncopied.

Main Contact

Mr. Paul Sargent
Job title
Deputy Keeper
020 7416 5291/5292
020 7416 5299
Lambeth Road

Alternate Contact

Jane Fish
Job title
Production Information Officer

Record Stats

This record has been viewed 11261 times.