British 20th Century life online

Funded by JISC as part of its digitisation programme, ‘BFI InView: Moving Images in the Public Sphere‘ is a ground breaking project to give academics, teachers, students and researchers free online access to hundreds of hours of film and television.
Available through the BFI National Archive these clips tell the complex social, economic and political history of Britain in the 20th century.

The resource comprises over 600 hours of full-length films and television programmes, alongside over 8,000 pages of related documents that have been digitised and made exclusively available to colleges and universities via a dedicated website.

Accessible through federated access management, meaning users can view the materials with a single sign-on, the BFI InView site is easily searchable with materials catalogued and organised under six main categories:

• Education
• Health
• The Environment
• Immigration, Race and Equality
• Industry and Economy
• Law and Order

Many titles are accompanied by commentary written by BFI curators and other experts. This provides crucial background on the content of each item, its production history and context, giving a unique insight to Britain over the past 100 years or more.

The digitised material represents a broad variety of sources and perspectives, including sponsored films, newsreels, television documentaries, discussion programmes from Channel Four’s acclaimed After Dark series, Party Political Broadcasts, televised Parliamentary debates and committees.  There is alsoa series of never-before broadcast interviews by Bernard Braden recorded during 1967/68. A substantial number of This Week and TV Eye programmes from Fremantle’s Thames Television Archive are also being included.

Alastair Dunning, JISC’s digitisation programme manager, said: ‘Moving images are perhaps the key primary learning source of the twentieth century. JISC is delighted to be able to support a project which publishes such a rich array of unstudied film and television content.’

Heather Stewart, cultural programme director at the BFI, said: ‘This is the first of what we hope will be many opportunities as the BFI moves to work closer with the higher education sector. Thanks to JISC we are able to work in partnership to open up the archive and provide an indispensable resource for anyone interested in researching, teaching or learning about the great themes of 20th century British history from competing and, sometimes, contradictory points of view as seen in the moving image.’

The BFI InView resource has been made possible thanks to its project partners: the BBC, Fremantle Media, the National Archives, Open Media and the Parliamentary Broadcasting Unit.

Initial testing of the site by academics from across the country will take place over the next few months, with the site launching in September 2009 with even more materials.

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