Wildfilm and related archives

In 2019, the University received a substantial grant from the Wellcome Trust to launch the ‘Making Wildfilm History Archive Project’. This resulted in the cataloguing and selective digitisation of a large mixed media collection relating to wildlife film-making.

A diver filming penguins
‌First ever attempt to film wild penguins underwater by Douglas Fisher F.R.P.S. DM2911/1/1/23/7/2. © Jeffery Boswall.

The Wildfilm Archive - DM2911

The Wildfilm Archive holds a broad range of material, both paper and audio-visual, arranged over nine main sections, summarised below. To browse the catalogue, click here.

  • Production papers and stills – Scripts, audience research, correspondence and publicity material.
  • Wildlife films – Video tapes including the WildFilmHistory collection, tracing the development of wildlife film-making from 1895. 16mm films from Eric Ashby, Niko Tinbergen and Dieter Plage.
  • Oral histories – Master tapes and transcripts for video interviews with sixty film-makers, including Sir David Attenborough, Heinz Sielmann, Des and Jen Bartlett, Barry Paine and Colin Willock.
  • Film festivals – Delegate literature and recordings from wildlife film festivals including Bristol’s Wildscreen, the International Wildlife Film Festival (IWFF) Missoula and Jackson Hole in the United States.
  • Eric Ashby’s photography – Images of foxes, badgers, birds and landscape in the New Forest.
  • Sound collection – BBC Radio programmes on natural history, plus environmental sound recordings and film soundtracks.
  • Serials and magazines – Issues of the Radio Times, BBC Wildlife and assorted press cuttings, creating a contemporaneous record of how wildlife films have been promoted and reviewed in the press.
  • Papers and discourse – Academic papers, lecture transcripts and audio recordings analysing the field of natural history film-making.
  • Objects – Filming equipment, animal specimens, posters and drawings.

Dr Harry Lillie - DM2971

A small collection of films, slides and a book proof copy by Dr Harry Lillie (died 1990) of Dunkirk, Scotland. Lillie was a surgeon and medical officer aboard British whaling ships in the Antarctic during the 1940s. What he saw, and filmed, compelled him on a life-long mission to prevent unnecessary suffering in animals at the hand of humans. He travelled widely throughout the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, making films and lecturing to animal rights societies and hearings on the subject of animal cruelty. The seven unique films in this collection contain early examples of anti-vivisection film. There is some distressing footage of violence against animals.  To browse the catalogue, click here.

Harpoon shooting from a ship towards a fin whale.H‌arpoon in the air before penetrating a fin whale (Antarctic, 1947). Photo by Dr Harry R. Lillie. Ref. DM2971/2/1.

Angela Hughes - DM2915

Angela Hughes OBE (1922-2009) was a conservationist and keen amateur film-maker, capturing footage of local wildlife in her home county of Dorset and nature reserves around the UK. She travelled extensively with her camera, filming in countries including Ethiopia and New Zealand. Alongside 16mm films there is some supporting paperwork, VHS tapes and over 500 slides.  To browse the catalogue, click here.

Angela Hughes sitting on a giant tortoise
Angela on giant tortoise, Frigate Island, Seychelles” [1963]. Ref. DM2915/5/2.

Oral histories in the Wildfilm Archive


A medieval manuscript. Online Archive Catalogue

Contains descriptions of many of our archive collections.

Edit this page