Using Video in the History Classroom

Russel Tarr shows that there is much more to using video than pressing ‘play’.

The potential offered by video as a teaching and learning aid in the history classroom extends way beyond asking students to answer structured questions based around a 30 minute programme. Primary footage, feature films and historical documentaries offer varied and stimulating ways into key topics. More excitingly still, developments in ICT now mean that students can deconstruct existing film sources and construct their own with astonishing ease and impressive results. In this first article, I will focus on the resources available ‘off the shelf’ for use with classes.
Primary footage enlivens history, allowing students to reach their own judgements by watching events unfold before their eyes. An investigation into whether Emily Davison intended to commit suicide at the 1913 Derby can start with primary sources about her character and prior career, but most revealing is the footage from the race, which enables students to decide for themselves whether Davison was intent on becoming a martyr or was merely trying to disrupt the race. Footage exists from two completely different angles, providing the opportunity for comparison. The first clip can be found on the British Pathé site site (, the second at the British Film Institute’s site (

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.



Get Miscellanies, our free weekly long read, in your inbox every week