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Understanding childhood obesity:the Wellcome Trust film and video archive goes digital

13 Dec, 08 | by Deborah Kirklin

I’m grateful to Christy Henshaw for letting me know about an exciting new project from the Wellcome Trust. So far about 100 films from the Trust’s vast archive of film and video have been digitalised and can be viewed by anyone, free-of-charge, on-line. 

A brief glance at the titles led me to a fascinating insight into how the British Medical Association, in 1967, tried to engage with the public about growing concerns regarding childhood obesity. The way in which the issue of childhood obesity is framed in the film- including the language used and the overt and unashamed signaling that allowing a child to be fat both stigmatises them and threatens their health- will surely enrich the thinking of contemporary medical humanities scholars interested in the so-called obesity epidemic.

To see this clip click on the link below.

Cruel Kindness

The list of available titles in the Wellcome Library Catalogue can be seen by following the link below. This resource will shortly be available via Flash Player which should make access easier.

Full details, from Christy, follow.

The Wellcome Library is digitising its film and video archive.  Previously, films and videos could only be viewed at the Library’s premises, but digitisation will provide easy and immediate access to a global audience, enabling vastly more people to see the evolution of medicine and health over the past 100 years and to learn about the use of film as a communication tool in the medical sciences.

Some of the fascinating titles being made available online include War Neuroses, showing soldiers in the First World War suffering from “shell shock” at Netley and Seale Hayne military hospitals, Craniectomy, a 1929 silent film detailing that particular surgical procedure, and The Five, a 1970s educational cartoon from the British Medical Association film archive (acquired by the Library in 2005) about the perils of not getting one’s feet measured properly.  The collection ranges from instructional films made for medical professionals to public information films dealing with such subjects as mass immunisation, the introduction of the NHS, and obesity, with films from as early as 1913.

Over 100 hours of moving images will be made freely available in a variety of formats on the Wellcome Library website and through JISC’s Film and Sound Online (FSOL) website during 2009.

For further information about this project, and some sample film, please visit the Wellcome Film website.



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