When Worlds Collide #105: Exploring Twentieth Century Time Capsules with British Pathé

When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today broadsheet newspaper on 2 May 2014

Time travel is not a technological possibility – at least not yet. Right now, we can travel back and forth in time only in our imagination – often with some help from photographic, sound and moving image recordings.

British Pathe archive logo

Last month, little ‘time capsules’ offering many frozen moments of the 20th century suddenly came within reach of anyone with Internet access. That’s when the British Pathé company uploaded its massive Newsreel archive on to the free video sharing platform YouTube.

All 85,000 of their historic films and footage can now be viewed, in high resolution, at www.youtube.com/britishpathe. Together, these contain some 3,500 hours of filmed history gathered from dozens of countries between 1896 and 1976.

Newsreels were short documentaries capturing highlights of current or recent events. They were typically shown before the…

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