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History Unfolds: British Pathé Uploads its Entire Archive to YouTube

Are you ready to take a step back in time? With just a click of a button on your computer or smartphone, you can have access to tens of thousands of archived films and newsreels. British Pathé, a 20th Century leader in the production of documentaries, newsreels and cine magazines has unveiled its entire archive on YouTube.

The British Pathé Archive

British Pathé was well known for its exclusive style of reporting and knowing how to entertain their audience. The company is in possession of what is considered to be the “finest cine newsreel archive in existence.” The coverage includes stories from around the world and covers a wide variety of subjects, such as major events, sports, culture and major coverage of World War I and World War II.

British Pathé’s vast collection is said to be a total of 85,000 films. This archived footage covers a time span from 1896 to 1976; a time period when history was made several times over. British Pathé made the choice to share the archived films so that the entire world could see and enjoy them. General Manager, Alastair White, is quoted as saying, “This archive is a treasure trove unrivalled in historical and cultural significance that should never be forgotten. Uploading the films to YouTube seemed like the best way to make sure of that.”

Footage of Iconic Historical Events

The generosity of Alastair White and British Pathé will allow viewers to indulge in footage of historical events with films, such as Hindenburg Disaster Real Footage (1937), Wright Brothers First Flight (1903) and Hiroshima Atomic Bomb (1945). The footage also includes peeks into the lives, both glamorous and tragic, of royalty and celebrities, including the films Princess Diana Dies in Paris Car Crash (1997), Charles Lindbergh Flies Atlantic Solo (1927), Martin Luther King Delivers His “I have a dream” Speech (1963) and JFK Assassinated (1963).

The British Pathé YouTube channel has been gracious as to sort the archived newsreels and documentaries into categories, such as “A Day That Shook the World,” “Disasters Caught on Camera,” “Celebrity: The Golden Era,” and more.  Playlists have also been created on the YouTube channel including a category that features a new highlight video each Sunday.

The Process

A German company, Mediakraft, is handling the unveiling of the archives on YouTube. The company has exemplified past successes in numbers on YouTube. There unleashing of the British Pathé archives was no easy task. Each of these moments in time had to be transferred from their old film format to a more modern, digitized format. This film transfer process has allowed the films to be released in a high resolution format; giving the viewers a great quality picture without losing the significance of the era. This digitized process guarantees the preservation of these irreplaceable junctures in history, thus providing an infinitive resource of our world’s foundation.

Unleashing this large archive of films provides limitless exploring and hours of viewing for film buffs, researchers, history buffs, and those that just love to learn more. Not only can viewers watch the archives, but they can also share them with others. By sharing its stored treasures, British Pathé is giving the world a new view of the history that got us to where we are today.