Rich Historical Film Archive from British Pathé

British Pathé
British Pathé

If you are looking for contemporary news film coverage of any world event between 1896 and the late 2oth century, here is a great find:

On April 17, Newsreel archive British Pathé announced that it had just uploaded its entire collection of 85,000 historic films, in high resolution, to its YouTube channel.  British Pathé reigned as the premier newsreel organization for many  years. It now has one of the world’s richest archives of historical and cultural footage which includes material major events, famous faces, fashion trends, travel, sport and culture from around the world. The two World Wars are prominently featured. 

These videos would be great to show in class, embed in teacher and student websites and blogs, comment on, and use as sources for research projects.

Here are just a couple of the intriguing options. The first is a short clip of Armstrong’s stepping on the moon in 1969. The second is “The World’s First Mobile Phone,” a video made in 1922!

There are also a number of playlists of multiple videos on a theme, such as 85 videos on “A Day That Shook the World.”  You could definitely spend hours and hours dipping into history with this archive!

Thanks to Joyce Valenza for sharing this news on her blog and filling me in on it.

What “How About Writing a Persuasive Letter?” Led to … or … The Value of Collaboration

(Note that I wrote this posting for the American Association of School Librarians Blog, and am cross-posting it here.)

I have had the pleasure during the last two years to collaborate with Teresa Nielsen, one of the science teachers at my high school. When she arrived at Mira Costa HS in Fall of 2012, I urged her to bring her classes to the library to work on projects together. For one project, she asked for my input on an assignment in which the students would learn about stem cells and then answer questions about the ethical issues associated with their use. I suggested that, instead of having them answer questions, she have them choose a side and write a letter to their congressmen for or against funding for stem cell research with arguments to support their viewpoints. She liked that idea, and I offered to set up and walk them through a pathfinder for sources and a template to help them learn the structure of a business letter. As a result, in addition to practicing research skills and learning about stem cells, the students also learned about finding their political representatives, how to write a persuasive letter in proper business format, and how to use Google Docs for word processing.

A few weeks ago, Teresa let me know that her Chemistry students were learning about combustion and the benefits and disadvantages of hydrogen power compared to gasoline. In talking about this in class, she told me, a local controversial issue – whether to proceed with drilling for oil off the coast in Hermosa Beach, California –  came up, and she thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of this local situation to have the students research the issue, and, like we did with the stem cell project, write and send a letter to a local political figure about their stance on the issue. I agreed that this was an excellent idea! I offered again to set up a pathfinder and prepare a template for a letter to the members of the Hermosa Beach City Council. This time, we went with sending the letter as an email. Here is the pathfinder we used:

drilling pathfinder.jpg

Not only did the students write excellent letters voicing opinions on both sides of the issue, but Nanette Barragan, one of the City Council members, responded to many of them, and both she and Hany Fangary, another Council Member, got in touch with Teresa. The students’ letters became part of the March 25 City Council meeting official input, the Beach Reporter featured an article about it, and both Council members came to speak to students from Ms. Nielsen’s class and several other science classes in the library last week.


The students learned about an important “real world” application of their chemistry studies, practiced persuasive writing, and became engaged in an issue affecting their local community.

Nanette Barragan and Teresa Nielsen also signed the Declaration for the Right to School Libraries! (Read my earlier post for information about the declaration, and sign yourself online here.)

barragan declaration.jpg

nielsen declaration.jpg