If you’ve been hanging out in the places I hang out on line, you already got the word: British Pathé has put its 85,000 historic newsreels on YouTube. My first reaction was “Cool. That’s a great resource for people who write about the 20th century.” Then I looked a little closer.
The company’s founder, Charles Pathé, was a pioneer of moving pictures at the end of the nineteenth century and the inventor of the cinema newsreel. For almost 100 years, British Pathé caught the news of the world on film. The new YouTube archive offers 3500 hours of filmed history–that’s a lot of blog posts in the making. If you want to see Queen Victoria’s funeral, the Wright Brother’s first flight, footage of the Battle of the Somme,* or the Beatles’ arrival in New York in 1964–head on over. I suggest you set a really annoying timer before you click the first video. Otherwise, you may never find your way out.
As a teaser, here’s a newsreel documenting Mahatma’s Gandhi’s arrival in England in 1932:
[Just a reminder: if you’re reading this via e-mail, you will need to view the post in your browser to see the video. Just click the post title and it will take you there.]
* If you’re interested in this one, I suggested you read Ian Beckett’s account of making the first war documentary (The Battle of the Somme, 1916) in The Making of the First World War: A Pivotal History