Videos From History

Video is a very powerful thing. No other medium can give you a visual reference of a specific time or place. As technology evolves, video keeps improving in quality and accessibility. But that doesn’t mean that older video, especially film recorded more than a century ago is without value.

Think of the era of history that is most interesting to you, and then imagine what it would be like to have actual video from that era. To see how people dressed, how they got around, how they lived. It would be amazing, right?

Obviously, since movie cameras were invented in the late 1800s, there is a limit to how far back in time we can actually see on film. However, there is still some amazing stuff out there that is only just now making its way onto the internet so we can all have a look.

That’s where people like Guy Jones come into play. His YouTube history project is absolutely fascinating. On his YouTube channel, you’ll see some of the earliest moving pictures in existence. The picture quality is often stunning. The frame rate has been adjusted so that it no longer has that “old-timey” look to it (learn more about frame rates here). Audio has been added to give it an added sense of place. And the historical value is priceless.

If you’re really into this sort of thing, you should consider giving to Guy’s fundraising efforts. But mostly, you should just check out some of these amazing examples of the historical power of video.

By way of example, I’m posting my personal favorite. This is film from downtown Moscow in 1896 recorded by Charles Moisson of the Lumière company. The clothes, the beards, the awkward looks to the camera. I can’t get enough of this stuff.

Jason Cooper