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News footage of 'The Troubles' online for the first time

Posted on 23/04/2012

Thousands of historical news and current affairs programmes from BBC Northern Ireland have been unveiled following a collaborative project involving researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London.

The BBC, JISC  and the British Universities Film and Video Council (BUFVC) last week announced the launch of Chronicle, an audio-visual archive providing access to BBC Northern Ireland’s television news from the 1960s and 1970s to the academic community.

As chair of BUFVC, Professor John Ellis, from the Department of Media Arts at Royal Holloway, was on the steering committee for the project while Dr Sian Barber carried out extensive user testing research on the project.

Dr Barber explains that due to the political sensitivity of the material that has been prepared for release there was a need for contextual details. She carried out extensive user group research with students, academics and AV librarians to assess the effectiveness of the contextualisation and to establish the academic value of the content.

 “The general feeling from all of the research groups was one of excitement that the footage was being made available,” Dr Barber said. “There is very little audio visual content from this period currently available so it is a fantastic resource. It is beneficial not just in terms of a political resource but also because of what the footage shows us about the culture of the 1960s and 1970s, for example the clothing being worn and the views expressed which cover everything from contraception to education.”

Chronicle will provide Authenticated Users with access to digitised copies of news and current affairs material covering Northern Ireland and ‘The Troubles’ from the BBC Northern Ireland’s vaults, along with web-based tools allowing it to be searched, viewed and annotated.

At the launch of Chronicle  last week, the BBC and JISC signed a Memorandum of Understanding pledging to support the promotion of their common purposes, especially with regard to education, learning and culture. 

This partnership follows several years of informal collaboration between the two organisations and is the result of a great deal of behind-the-scenes work at BUFVC.

Professor Ellis said: “We are delighted that through the Chronicle archive project thousands of news broadcasts and current affairs programmes can be shared with the academic community. In return, those studying the material will be able to add to the BBC’s data about the footage, which often covers sensitive events. I hope that this will initiate a fruitful relationship with the BBC, through which academic researchers can help actively in the preparation of their vast archival holdings for public use” 

For more information about the project, visit the Chronicle archive online.


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