2020: From outbreak to archive

From outbreak to archive: tales of public health

Every summer since 2016, The National Archives has worked with young people to create animated films that are inspired by our unique collection of historical documents. In 2020, we took the filmmaking online, challenging students to contribute from home!

The 2020 project explored diseases and epidemics from history: ranging from the Great Plague in 1665, to Cholera in 1830s, and the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.  What were the responses of the authorities, what public information was available, and what were the suggested cures and remedies for some of these diseases? We invited students to explore these documents and to be inspired to create your own interpretation of these records.

The project ran from Monday 27th – Friday 31st July for young people aged between 16-19. Archive material and filmmaking guidance was provided on our website and by filmmaker Nigel, and members of our Education team.

You can watch all of the finished films online.

By taking part in this project students were be able to:

  • Research the history of public health using digital facsimiles of original records with support from our Education team and record experts
  • Develop filmmaking skills with a professional from the industry, using a range of techniques which are available from your home
  • Work creatively with/alongside like-minded young people
  • Take part in a unique project that combines historical stories with your own interpretation of historical records
  • Be the first group of young people to contribute to our filmmaking project series whilst working remotely
Watch the finished films