VIDEOS: 10 Cool Old British Newsreels of Philadelphia

Watch old newsreels from Philadelphia on subjects like women’s football, the Mummers, transit strikes, dirty streets and a plot to destroy the Liberty Bell.

independence-hall-pathe-940x540

From 1910 until 1970, the U.K.-based Pathé News produced newsreels and documentaries on events all over the world. Recently, a collection of 85,000 videos was uploaded to YouTube.

This kind of information dump is glorious for history dorks and journalists — and I just happen to be both. There are dozens of videos about Philadelphia! I trawled through the collection to find some notable videos, and I highly suggest you search for yourself as well.




For example, here is a report on a women's football game played in 1932 between the "Buxom Chicago Bears and Blushing California Roses" at the Baker Bowl, the Phillies stadium. You can even spot the outfield "THE PHILLIES USE LIFEBUOY" sign. It is incredible. "Now we know where the bargain counter hands train for the sales!" It is also awful.

As the description notes, the stands are empty during gameplay. This newsreel used journalistic tricks!

Also, there is an incredible re-creation of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Holy crap, it's the Mummers in 1931! Look how little has changed.

And here are Mummers in 1927! Literally the only thing different about these two videos and the current Mummers parade is the current one's lack of blackface.

This is a report on a strike by the Philadelphia Transportation Company, the forerunner of SEPTA. "As usual, it is the public that is caught in the middle," the report says, "but all in all, Philadelphians take the strike in their stride." The union head also says, "We hold no responsibility to the public. We hold responsibility to our membership." This is also no different than what could be happening later this year.

Yes, yes, parts of this look like Philadelphia today, too.

I did not know of this story about a plot to destroy American monuments, including the Liberty Bell, where the chief perpetrator, Robert Steele Collier, was actually caught with sticks of dynamite. Steele Collier called the Statue of Liberty "that damned bitch." And the woman involved, Michelle Duclos, was a Quebecois TV personality!

This is the 1932 Army-Navy game played at Franklin Field, which Army won 20-0 in the mud. Tee hee! Look how funny these players look while trying to keep their footing.

Hey, it's JFK!

I hate to end on a sad note, but here is £100,000 of liquor being destroyed in Philadelphia in 1927.

Follow @dhm on Twitter.

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.