AM launches British Newsreels, 1911-1930, comprising thousands of films from one of the major newsreels of the silent era

AM’s latest publication, British Newsreels, 1911-1930, is an exciting new video resource based on over 6,000 early twentieth century Topical Budget newsreels drawn from the British Film Institute and the Imperial War Museums.

Between 1911 and 1931, Topical Budget was one of the major British newsreels, reaching audiences of five million at its peak. Working with the War Office, they gained exclusive access to film shot by official cameramen on the various fronts of the First World War, while other films focused on a wide range of topics including domestic and international politics, the Royal Family, sport, leisure and fashion. Played in cinemas to inform and entertain the public, these silent films offer fascinating insights into British life, culture and society.

This is the first time that the vast majority of the Topical Budget collection has been published together, with the original volatile silver nitrate film now being preserved in digital form for future researchers. Beyond the newsreels themselves, the resource provides valuable contextual content, including essays and video interviews illustrating key themes and research topics.

Highlights of the collection include rare footage of scenes from the First World War, film of a lunar eclipse shot through the most powerful telescope of the period, and a feature documenting techniques used to create sound effects, providing an insight into the interaction of early film with the evolution of broadcasting.

The collection is accompanied by a wealth of contextual and pedagogical material provided by experts in the fields of early film history and early twentieth century society, together with fully accessible descriptive transcripts for each film. Hosted on Quartex, AM’s digital collections platform, there are a wide range of cutting-edge search functions and accessibility features which make this a uniquely engaging, accessible, and powerful resource for researchers and students.

Our new resource holds wide-ranging appeal to students working across multiple fields and provides a natural companion to other AM resources such as Victorians on Film. These films were an early precursor of modern TV news shows, and the collection provides a fascinating insight into the development of broadcasting, while shedding light on a diverse range of subjects. We are extremely excited to see the outcomes of the research opportunities which will be opened up by this ground-breaking new resource.

Rachael Gardner-Stephens, Publisher, AM

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