Wellcome Trust To Put Archive Medical Film Collection Online

By Graham Spicer | 10 August 2007
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black and white film still of a woman next to a group of children holding up tins in their hands

Dispensing vitimin D-rich treacle as a dietary supplement to combat rickets at a children's home for boys in 1931 Birmingham. Courtesy The Wellcome Library, London

More than 400 historical medical films are to be made freely available on the web for the first time.

The material consists of over 100 hours of moving images from the Wellcome Library’s unique collection of medical films. It will be digitised and put online over the next two years, with the first material due to be available from autumn 2008.

The archive includes films exploring global health issues like 1946 footage of malaria treatment in Kenya, films illustrating advances in public healthcare including immunisation and free-to-all health services while others look at some of the medical greats of the 19th and 20th centuries such as Ivan Pavlov’s famous research describing his experiments with canine behaviour.

black and white film still of a group of children in lines jumping up into the air with their hands in the air

c1939 film showing the enthusiasm behind the mass health and fitness movement of the 1930s. Courtesy The Wellcome Library, London

All the films will become available on the Wellcome Trust’s website and the Joint Information Systems Committee’s (JISC) Film and Sound Online service.

“This digitisation project provides a wonderful opportunity to make a unique collection available to audiences online,” said Frances Norton, Head of the Wellcome Library.

“These films provide a wealth of material for academic research, and are an illustrative tool for teaching and learning, but they are also a fascinating public record of the history of medical, surgical and social care in the UK.”

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