Channel Showcase: British Pathe

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Depending on how it’s taught, history can either be fascinating or very boring. I’m lucky enough to have a great history teacher, and through that have learned to enjoy it and understand its importance in predicting the future and analyzing current events. But all too often you hear stories about terrible history classes, how kids are being forced to memorize dates and spit them out in an exam never to be used again. First off, history is better told as a serious of stories – that should be obvious enough, as no one would pick route memorization over interesting, exciting, and pertinent storytelling. Secondly, and this only applies to more recent history, showing students pictures and videos of the events talked about can help make them seem less abstract much more what they really are: people from times past living their lives through events that were noteworthy enough for people tens or hundreds of years in the future to want to learn about and analyze.

British Pathe

Where would one get old video from important events around the globe to help them learn more about history and or just to watch and enjoy? I’m glad you asked. The YouTube channel British Pathe, a modern branch of the newsreel and documentary company of the same name, is the best place I know of on the Internet to find great historical video. All the way from 1910 to 1970, British Pathe made newsreels about almost every major newsworthy event across the globe, from the Olympics to WWII. Ever since 2009, British Pathe have been uploading these clips to their YouTube channel a couple times a week. They won’t run out anytime soon; their 85,000 total clips will allow them to keep posting for a long, long time.

While you may be thinking that British Pathe is just good for history teachers, think again. Every month, British Pathe picks a theme for the videos they post, past themes being Hollywood, crime, space, Christmas, and more. Not only are the weekly videos educational, but they are also very interesting and entertaining, little mini-documentaries in your subscription box on a weekly basis. Often telling the story of a certain event, British Pathe videos not only tell you but also show you what happened. Of course, as this is history, there are plenty of more depressing videos of various tragedies and wars, but for the featured video I decided to choose a more uplifting video: a video of Micky the “world’s greatest jumping dog”, a clip made way back in 1930. The video isn’t nearly the best and most well-told of the British Pathe videos, but it is a good example of how they used old footage to make a short entertaining video. Altogether, whether or not you enjoyed history when you first learned it, British Pathe is a great channel to check out for interesting as well as educational and entertaining videos using first-hand footage from many of the history’s most notable events.

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