It’s time to take a closer look at the most popular searches, subjects and items in March. Thank you very much for your interest in being in the front row of our fashion show which was the last post on the Jisc MediaHub blog, as shown by ‘fashion’ being the fourth most popular search term this month!
As always, there are a number of interesting themes running through last month’s most popular lists.
Unrest, conflicts and war
By far the most popular search terms and subjects are centred around the First World War. From 2014 to 2018 the First World War Centenary is being commemorated globally through a series of events and projects. IWM First World War Collection is proving to be a very popular resource, judging by its place as the third most popular search term. The subjects of the British Army and the Western Front during this time are a particular focus of MediaHub users searches at the moment. For instance, below is a photograph taken by Lieutenant John Warwick Brooke on the 29th May 2018 of the French infantry coming back through Passy-sur-Marne and passing a British regimental band resting by the roadside, at the Third Battle of the Aisne.
A great collection which can be accessed through Jisc MediaHub is the First World War Poetry Digital Archive, an online repository of over 7000 items of text, images, audio, and video for teaching, learning, and research. Launched on 11th November 2008, the First World War Poetry Digital Archive (based at the University of Oxford) makes available to the general public a wide array of archival resources relating to literature of the First World War, including material from the Imperial War Museum Photographic Archive. There are many items showing war efforts on the home front (the seventh most popular subject), an example being this image of women painters working on the exterior of the District Railway at Hammersmith, London.
There are also some short films including Every little helps, a British propaganda film on food saving and producing activities in Ilford, Essex, 1918, which stresses the need for part-time work to win the war. The film collection holds an array of moving image items relating to the last three years of the war, and includes items from the Imperial War Museum Film and Video Archive.
Other popular subject terms relating to World War I are ‘destruction’ (a keyword used in the IWM First World War Collection to describe the devastation caused by the bombings) and ‘land warfare’. Air and water warfare are also covered in MediaHub, with one particular example also our seventh most popular item this month: a short film from 1918 showing German submarines and bi-planes in action.
Another clear theme in March’s most popular lists is that of ‘disaster’. The second (and sixth!) most popular search is the R101 Airship, which was one of a pair of British rigid airships completed in 1929 as part of a British government programme to develop civil airships capable of service on long-distance routes within the British Empire. Below is a short film showing the R. 101 flying over London before landing in Cardington, where it started its 200-mile maiden voyage in October 1929.
On the 4th October 1930 the airship departed from Cardington destined for Karachi which was at that time part of British India. This proved to be its last ever flight, as the airship nosedived and crashed southwest of Beauvais in France, killing 48 of the 54 passengers and crew. This disaster signalled the end of the British initiative to develop lighter-than-air aircraft.
Another kind of tragedy were the Notting Hill Riots of 1958, with an ITN report on the riots entitled ‘Notting Hill Riots Special‘ being the most popular item and the third most popular search. The short report looks at the grievances which had caused the recent disturbances in West London.
Unfortunately, it is not only in 1958 when there were riots in Notting Hill. MediaHub has other short audio and visual news reports on disturbances in 1981, 1987, and 2008. One example is a radio interview with Alex Pascall, carnival organiser, on the aftermath of the Notting Hill Carnival in August 1987 where one person died (stallholder Michael Galvin) and one-hundred were injured following disturbances involving policeman and rioters.
‘Fire’ is the seventh most popular search, which brings back some very interesting items! There are many still images of fires, as well as of the equipment to put them out. Below is a fascinating article from 1910 showing a picture of a new fire engine and information on the fire stations in Sheffield. The Sheffield Fire Brigade’s Motor Escape Reg. No. W 1000, was purchased in 1907 for West Bar Green Fire Station.
There are also a number of videos and short news reports about fires in MediaHub, such as a Forestry Commission film (Forestry Commission Fire Exercise. ITN News, 1956) which brings to mind the very recent arson attacks on forest and grass land in South Wales. A 2011 Forestry Commission report, Wildfires in Wales specifically looked into some of the social factors that can lead to deliberate starting of wildfires like these. And thankfully fire and rescue equipment has moved on since 1910, with modern day fire fighters working with technologies far beyond Motor Escape Reg No. W 1000 in order to keep these fires under control.
Science is another hot topic this month, with both ‘forensic’ and ‘DNA’ being popular search terms. There is a huge variety of items available in these subject areas, ranging from computer-generated 3D animations through to talks and presentations. The digital images from the Wellcome Images collection are particularly impressive, including these beautiful and vastly magnified crystals of DNA repair protein.
There are two very popular items from March with a political theme. The second most popular item is a news report from 1990 (‘World Has Been Swept by Change‘) from AP Television News on the changes which had taken place since Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in Russia five years previously. The era of “perestroika” and “glasnost” had far reaching effects both nationally and globally.
One popular item, the ITN report on the Selma March, has been of particular interest this month due to March 7-25th marking the fiftieth anniversary of this landmark civil rights event, also highlighted in the recent Oscar nominated film ‘Selma’. This was a peaceful protest march between Selma and Montgomery, Alabama in 1965 for civil rights in America. It is hard to believe that the Selma to Montgomery marches highlighting racial injustice happened only 50 years ago given the progress that has been made, although recent events over police conduct in the USA show that tensions still remain around race and equality of treatment.
Much closer to home, but also popular this month, is the question of Welsh devolution. The tenth most popular item is a report, made back in 1976 and looking at the future of the Welsh Assembly. The National Assembly for Wales was actually established quite a few years down the line with the creation of the Government of Wales Act 1998, which followed a referendum in 1997.
Arts, culture and entertainment
This theme is always very popular, in fact it is the fourth most popular subject searched. This month popular arts, culture and entertainment MediaHub content includes war art (the tenth most popular search term), music (ninth most popular subject), and a painting by Rossetti (fifth most popular item).
Music features heavily in MediaHub, with audio files as well as images of sheet music, instruments and scenes where music is played or listened to. Many traditional Scottish tunes are available to hear through the School of Scottish Studies Collection (University of Edinburgh), via Tobar an Dulchais. This website contains over 34,000 oral recordings such as folklore, songs, music, history, poetry, traditions, stories and other information. The material has been collected from all over Scotland and beyond from the 1930s onwards. One particular example is a tune called Lochaber no More, played on the Highland bagpipes.
A particularly lovely popular item is an image of the painting entitled Girl at a Lattice by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, painted in 1862. This is part of the Fitzwilliam Museum Collection, in Cambridge (UK). Images from the collection cover a wide range of pictorial content drawn from the rich, diverse and internationally significant collections of The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, including major artists such as Canaletto, J.M.W. Turner, George Stubbs and John Constable. Every image is tagged by geographical location and a date or period, and many of the images are linked to contemporary social and political events.
The search term ‘war art’ brings back a lot of interesting results. Drawing and painting scenes in times of war was both necessary before the use of photography and filming was prevalent and, in some cases, therapeutic. There has now also been a move to use the negative effects of war for more positive ends, by making de-commissioned weapons into objects of art. Below is a short film on how the Mozambican Civil War, which raged between 1977 and 1992, still remains present in the lives and thoughts of many – including artists who are converting weapons used in the conflict into creative works.
Here is a nice, happy item to finish this post on! The eighth most popular item is this short newsreel (one of our featured items last month) entitled ‘A Yorkshire Romance‘ about Sir William Sutherland M.P. marrying Miss Annie Fountain at Darton church, Barnsley. Mr. Lloyd George was present at the wedding and was afterwards made a freeman of the borough.
This leads me on to wonder if there are particular items in Jisc MediaHub which make you feel happy? Do let us know and we can share them! Also, as always, we would love to hear your thoughts on why some of the items above are popular – just let us know in the comments below or share your theories on Twitter with the hashtag #MediaHubTop10.