The latest volume in the BFI's ongoing series of film collections from the archives of the Central Office of Information takes a look at social attitudes towards parenting and children in the post-war era. Hand-knitted woollies, a short back and sides, strict family roles, kids being encouraged to play outside, cut-glass English accents and endlessly charming boys and girls are all in evidence. And, somewhat surprisingly perhaps, there are no slaps, slippers or canes are to be found anywhere.
On 15th April 2013, the BFI releases Your Children and You, a fascinating DVD collection of Government-sponsored films from 1946-1985 advising parents, teachers, students and carers on pregnancy, birth, parenting, childhood, child development, child psychology and school days.
From 1940s films promoting healthy eating, good schooling and getting your little ones off to sleep – three crucial issues for today's parents – to a 1980s documentary on Mary Warnock's work around ethical issues in the early days of IVF, this unique collection charts our ever-evolving attitudes to child-rearing.
The majority of films here were made during the 1940s, when a spike in the birth rate immediately after World War II meant there was a pressing need to give clear and effective instructions to first-time parents on the dos and don'ts of bringing up baby.
Highlights of the collection include: Your Children and You (1946), an unexpectedly contemporary guide to the practicalities of caring for babies and youngsters; Children Growing Up With Other People (1947), an observational film about childhood and adolescence; The Three A's: A County Modern School (1947), a portrait of the pioneering and idyllic-looking Allertonshire County Modern School in North Yorkshire; Charley Junior's Schooldays (1949) in which Halas and Batchelor colour animation illustrates the workings of the new Education Act; and Children's Thought and Language (1971), which looks at the development of language and reasoning amongst young children.
Also included are four complementary bonus films about childbirth and motherhood from the collection held in the Wellcome Library, giving an insight into the pre-NHS health and welfare landscape before 1948. Three of the films feature newly recorded soundtracks.
The films are:
- Your Children and You (1946)
- Children Growing Up with Other People (1947)
- Your Children's Meals (1947)
- The Three A's: A County Modern School (1947)
- Charley junior's Schooldays (1949)
- Bonus Wellcome Library films: Bathing and Dressing, Parts 1 & 2 (1935) (new soundtrack)
- Toxaemia of Pregnancy (1958) (original audio)
- Your Children's Sleep (1948)
- A Family Affair (1950)
- Child Welfare (1962)
- Children's Society: Aunts and Uncles (1960)
- Children's Thought and Language (1971)
- A Woman's Place (Test Tube Babies) (1985)
- Bonus Wellcome Library films:
- Maternity: A film of Queen Charlotte's Hospital (1932) (new musical accompaniment)
- Childbirth as an athletic Feat (1939) (new musical accompaniment)
The 2-disc set will retail at £19.99.
Extra features are:
Bathing and Dressing Parts 1 & 2 (1935): a meticulous demonstration of how to bathe and change a very young baby
Toxaemia of Pregnancy (1958): an educational film about this serious condition
Maternity: A film of Queen Charlotte's Hospital (1935); antenatal and postnatal care in the 1930s
Childbirth as an Athletic Feat (1939): a demonstration of antenatal exercises suitable for mothers-to-be
Illustrated booklet with essays and film notes by BFI National Archive curators and Wellcome Library experts