The uses of film and visual sources in labour history
Palavras-chave:Edwardian Britain in Colour, Labour History, TV History, Film, Visual Sources
As soon as film technology was invented in the late nineteenth century, it was used by European film-makers to record, document and represent local working lives. The films were typically short, silent and monochrome. They were made and funded by different people for different purposes, including by business owners to promote their enterprises, as well as by showmen who charged those depicted to pay to come and see the spectacle of themselves and their friends on screen. The films were shown in a variety of settings, including traditional fairs and early cinemas. This article analyses a selection of films featuring a range of early twentieth century British workers compiled as part of a recent British TV history series to which I contributed – Edwardian Britain in Colour (Channel 5). The original films have been restored and colourised in order to bring them to life for a new audience. The article explores the complexities of capturing workers and workplaces on film and suggests how labour historians in Britain, Brazil and beyond can use films like these and other visual materials as valuable sources.
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