Film and the Historian

Exploring the Work of the InterUniversity History Film Consortium (IUHFC)

The InterUniversity History Film Consortium (IUHFC) pioneered the study and use of film in history. Founded in 1968 by John Grenville and Nicholas Pronay at the University of Leeds, the IUHFC made 16 films, all accompanied by detailed booklets produced by historians such as John Ramsden, Tony Aldgate and Philip Taylor. These films, mainly utilising newsreel footage, included themes ranging from Stanley Baldwin and The Labour Party to the Spanish Civil War and fascism.

 

Primary Sources

The primary sources section brings together a selection of articles which not only chart the origins and development of the IUHFC but reveal discussions around the practical issues of how to use film in teaching specific topics and the process of archiving film at the time. These texts are all from the journal University Vision which was published by the British Universities Film Council from 1968 to 1975. The whole of the first edition, sub-titled Film and the Historian and edited by Dr Paul Smith is available.

University Vision, No. 1

BUFC

This first edition of the re-launched BUFC journal was devoted to the use of film in the study and research of modern history.

Conference "Film and the Historian"

L-A. Bawden

L-A. Bawden, Slade Film Department, traces the origins of the 1968 conference and summarises the issues it raised.

Universities and the National Film Archive

Colin Ford

Colin Ford, Deputy Curator of the National Film Archive, discusses the challenges it faces in increasing access to higher education.

Historians and Film: A Progress Report

Dr. Paul Smith

Dr. Paul Smith, King’s College, University of London, examines developments following the 1968 conference.

A Method of Film Study Presentation

Don Simmonds

Don Simmonds, post-graduate, University of Reading, suggests methods of presenting film when teaching history.

The Selection of Films as Historical Records in the National Film Archive

Ernest Lindgren

Ernest Lindgren, Curator of the National Film Archive, explains the reasons behind the Archive’s selection policy.

The Cinema and the Second World War: The Resistance

Anne Fleming

Anne Fleming, Research Assistant, Department of Film, Imperial War Museum, reports on the conference held in Este, 1971.

Proposal for a Course on Films and History

Prof. William Hughes

Prof. William Hughes, Essex Community College, Maryland, USA, outlines a course aimed at using film in historical studies.

The Making of a Documentary Film – ‘1900’: A Montage

Prof. Patrick H. Griffin

Prof. Patrick H. Griffin, Long Beach State College, California, describes this historian/student film, produced with the Layola Workshop.

‘The Historian as Film-Maker’: A Report From New Orleans

Peter G. Boyle

Peter G. Boyle, University of Nottingham, reports on Dr Schuusma’s key speech at the American Historical Association’s convention, 1972.

From ‘Sambo’ to ‘Superspade’: Some Problems in the Use of Film in Historical Research

Daniel J. Leab

Prof. Daniel J. Leab, Columbia University, USA, considers the difficulties faced by historians using film as a research source.

The Production of ‘Spanish Civil War’ – Part 1: The Archives and the Newsreels

Tony Aldgate

Tony Aldgate, Open University, discusses the pre-production challenges in this IUHFC film.

The Production of ‘Spanish Civil War’ – Part 2: A Film in the Making*

Tony Aldgate

Tony Aldgate, Course Assistant, Open University, recounts the production process & value of this IUHFC film.

‘Film, Sound and Historical Analysis’ – A Course in Film and History

K. E. Ward

K. E. Ward, Lecturer at New University of Ulster, describes his film course and expands on William Hughes’ article.

Book Review

Prof. Arthur Marwick

Prof. Arthur Marwick, Open University, reviews ‘The Use of Film in University Teaching’, a Social Science Research Council study (1972-1973).

 

Secondary Sources

The secondary sources section looks at the history and significance of the organisation through articles by Dr Peter Bell, Executive Secretary of IUHFC, and Professor James Chapman. We hope to keep adding material here which will help to deliver different perspectives on the IUHFC and its legacy, from those that were part of it and those discovering it for the first time.

The sixteen films produced by the Consortium between 1969 and 1999 can be divided into two series: the British Universities Historical Studies in Film Series (1969-1995) and the Archive Series (1974-1999). The main difference between the two was stylistic with the Historical Studies Series using scripted voice-over commentaries and the Archive Series using compilations of newsreel and archive footage preceded by captions. Each film was accompanied by a booklet which examined the subject in greater depth and was usually written by the historian responsible for the production.

 

British Universities Historical Studies in Film (1969-1995)

This was the first series produced by the Consortium with ‘The Munich Crisis’ (1969) setting the style for future films. Here historians used a documentary format, commentaries and edited archive footage, to explain and illustrate their points in relation to the theme examined. The films were each accompanied by a booklet that examined their subject matter in greater detail.

The Munich Crisis (1969)

Writer(s):
John Grenville

Director(s):
Nicholas Pronay

The End of Illusions - From Munich to Dunkirk (1970)

Writer(s):
John Grenville

Director(s):
Nicholas Pronay

The Spanish Civil War (1972)

Writer(s):
Paul Addison and Owen Dudley Edwards

Director(s):
Tony Aldgate

The Winter War and its European Context (1973)

Writer(s):
Derek Spring

Director(s):
George Bradt

The Great Depression (1976)

Writer(s):
Peter Stead

Director(s):
Peter Stead

Fascism (1980)

Writer(s):
Anthony Polonsky, James Joll and Stuart Hood

Director(s):
Anthony Polonsky, James Joll and Stuart Hood

A Call To Arms - Propaganda and Rearmament in the 1930s (1985)

Writer(s):
Philip M. Taylor

Director(s):
Philip M. Taylor

Images of the Soviet Union at War, 1941-45 (1989)

Writer(s):
P. M. H. Bell and Ralph White

Director(s):
Philip M. Taylor

The Collectivisation of Soviet Agriculture (1995)

Writer(s):
Derek Spring and Maria Zezina

Director(s):
Derek Spring and Maria Zezina

 

Archive Series (1974-1999)

This was the second series produced by the Consortium and adopted a very different style, partly through financial constraints. Here the historians effectively produced compilations of archive footage, primarily newsreel. Each film was preceded by a descriptive caption eliminating any voice-over. Each one of the seven films produced was accompanied by a booklet that examined their subject matter in greater detail.

Neville Chamberlain (1974)

Writer(s):
Alan Beattie, David Dilks and Nicholas Pronay

Director(s):
Alan Beattie, David Dilks and Nicholas Pronay

Origins of the Cold War (1975)

Writer(s):
Peter G. Boyle

Director(s):
Peter G. Boyle

Stanley Baldwin (1979)

Writer(s):
John Ramsden

Director(s):
John Ramsden

Our Great Ally France, 1938-1940 (1986)

Writer(s):
Philip Bell and Ralph White

Director(s):
Philip Bell and Ralph White

The Korean War, 1950-53 (1992)

Writer(s):
J. M. Bourne and W. S. Lucas

Director(s):
Philip M. Taylor

Images of America, 1937-39 (1996)

Writer(s):
Peter Bell

Director(s):
Philip M. Taylor

The Labour Party, 1918-45 (1999)

Writer(s):
Roger Spalding

Director(s):
Roger Spalding

 

All films in the IUHFC collection are available for purchase on DVD. For more information please contact our distribution service at ask@learningonscreen.ac.uk

The project team describe some of the challenges and processes involved in the selection, digitisation and publication of moving image and text for an academic audience.

IUHFC Project, Creating an Academic Resource

Linda Kaye

Linda Kaye, Research Executive, looks at some issues involved in producing an multimedia online resource for an academic audience

IUHFC Project, Technical Selection

Frazer Ash

Frazer Ash, Media Technician at the BUFVC, discusses the process of technical selection.

IUHFC Project, Digitisation

Frazer Ash

Find out what decisions were made and software used in the preparation of films and text for online delivery

IUHFC Project, Online Presentation

Frazer Ash & Gabriel Hernández

What decisions were made about presentation?

IUHFC Project, Acknowledgments

Learning on Screen would like to thank Peter Bell for his support of the project and James Chapman for his contribution to the IUHFC site.

 

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