Film, Video and Sound Recordings

Film and Video

The Archives holds over 5,300 titles (about 12,600 individual items) in a variety of film and videotape formats, spanning the first century of film history. These works include travelogues, industrial and promotional films, documentaries, newsreel items, television news footage and public affairs programming, educational films, dramatic and experimental shorts, and family home movies.

The Archives' film collection includes a copy of Down Western Slope (1899), one of the first pieces of film footage shot in British Columbia. There are also glimpses of the first years of the 20th century recorded on film. However, it is the era from 1935 to 1985 that is most strongly documented. This was a period of tremendous change, not just in terms of industrial development, but also in the domestic and working lives of British Columbians. Search our collection online.

Two published filmographies provide further information about films made in British Columbia before 1966, including items that are not in the BC Archives' collection. These books can be found in many public and university libraries, and copies can be consulted in our reference room.

Motion Picture Production in British Columbia, 1898–1940: A Brief Historical Background and Catalogue, by Colin Browne. British Columbia Provincial Museum Heritage Record no. 6. Victoria: British Columbia Provincial Museum, 1979.

Camera West: British Columbia on Film, 1941–1965, by Dennis J. Duffy. Victoria: Provincial Archives of British Columbia, 1986. This book includes a supplement with updated information on pre-1940 films.

Sound Recordings

The BC Archives has an extensive and varied collection of sound recordings, including cylinders, audio discs, tape reels, cassettes and compact discs.The collection includes almost 13,000 recordings, 75 per cent of which are described online.

Reference copies exist for many of the sound recordings and can be used in the reference room. Complete or partial transcripts are available for some of the recordings. The presence of transcripts are noted in the online descriptions.

The collection includes about 4,000 oral history interviews. They include material from private donors (including broadcasters, historians, researchers and local historical societies), and interviews recorded by museum and archives staff.

Our collection of recorded music includes unpublished recordings of indigenous music of the Pacific Northwest, collected by Ida Halpern and Mildred Valley Thornton, as well as the Phil Thomas collection of British Columbia folk songs. We also hold numerous published recordings including phonographic records created by British Columbia musicians, composers, ensembles and studios from the 1950s through the 1980s. Search for sound recordings online.

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