RURAL HISTORY 2013, BERN

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Keynote Session III: Films - a new Source in Rural History

The agricultural sector was one of the pioneers when it came to producing moving pictures in the early 20th century. These films were used by agricultural organisations for educational purposes as well as for advertising products. At a time when films were rare, moving pictures provoked a great interest in the countryside and farm women began to make use of the new technique as early as scientists. That film was an important medium in political propaganda is well known – but what is much less appreciated is that films were widely used by scientists and state institutions to popularize their discoveries and to communicate with the wider public.

The Archives of Rural History (ARH) has unearthed, safeguarded and digitised a substantial number of agricultural films from the time period of the 1920's to the 1970's. In this lecture we will present extracts from a variety of films and discuss the potential of this new source for rural (and other) historians.