A piece of Singapore history found on YouTube
By Imelda Saad, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 01 April 2009 1948 hrs
Singapore: Scenes few probably never imagined they'd see of Singapore have come to light through video sharing website YouTube.
The little known documentary called 'Singapore - Crossroads of the East 1938' was posted on the site by Global ImageWorks, a company that deals in stock footage.
As of April, the video has generated more than 30,000 views on YouTube including one Singapore cabinet member and active netizen, Foreign Minister George Yeo, who posted a link to the video on his Facebook social networking site.
It was the work of an American filmmaker in the days when the film camera was as uncommon as the cars and trucks featured in the approximately 11-minute feature of turn of the century Singapore.
The creator of the filmlet, Andre De la Varre, was a cameraman and cinematographer who created a series of travel documentaries in the 1930s.
It is not known why he chose Singapore as a subject, but one reason could be postcards from the 'exotic East' as De la Varre is said to have often based his topics on postcards he received from fans around the world.
De la Varre died at the age of 85 in 1987. But his work has lived on to reach a worldwide audience.
Those who cannot imagine Singapore without its modern high-rise skyline get a treat with the filmlet, complete with bullock carts, rickshaws and familiar spots that still can be found today on the island nation.
The National Archives of Singapore said the black and white scenes depict Singapore's development from the 1900s to the 1950s.
However, as Irene Lim, Deputy Director of the National Archives of Singapore pointed out, it is important to verify the accuracy of information.
"(The Internet) is the tool that people use nowadays. So it is one of the platforms and you could use that perhaps as a starting point to obtain some leads and from there you could perhaps go on to do more advanced research to make sure that information you want to use from the Internet is reliable and authentic," she said.
"So for example, footage of 1930s Singapore - you want to verify whether the information is accurate. You could, for example, look at archival photographs from that period and could use that to verify against the footage," she added.
One way is to go to the Access to Archives Online Website at www.a2o.com.sg, which has a collection of photos, documents and audio visual stock that has been authenticated by the National Archives.