First, the non-fiction areas of animation were used primarily by the creators of educational or propaganda films.
The former appreciated the absence of living figures and the possibility of a very clear demonstration which would otherwise not be possible because of the small size, the speeds, which could be too fast or too slow, or the indelicate nature of the mediated phenomena. The latter enjoyed the possibility of caricature and putting the mocked enemies into the main role – for example the most frequented historical character of Walt Disney's or Fleisher Bro's war propaganda was an animated Hitler. Apart from propaganda films, which have to be considered in the context of their time and the fact that they are part of antiwar hygiene, Disney and the Fleischer's involved themselves in the production of non-fictional, didactic and educational films strengthening the right way of living, civic-minded behaviour and respect for nature. Among the most famous work is an instructional film about menstruation. The rare project of Fleisher Bro's is also interesting – they tried, by popularization and animation, to explain great scientific theories to the wider laic audience (the evolution and relativity theories to be precise).
A category which can't be omitted – especially in the beginnings of animation – is the animated mediation of events that took place either before the invention of cinematography or were, due to the social and technical conditions of those times, unfeasible for a live reconstruction. The first film of this kind is considered to be The Sinking of Lusitania by Winsor McCay, made in 1918. The topic of the film is the attack of a German submarine on a British cruise ship, which cost about 2000 lives. McCay has created an emotively intense reconstruction focusing on the personal lives and individuality of the drowned. Originally the film was shown while reading the journalist report (it was a kind of animated newspaper).
The Sinking of Lusitania
dir. Winsor McCay, USA, 1918, 12'
The Einstein Theory of Relativity
dir. Dave Fleischer, USA, 1923, 29'
dir. Peter Lord, England, 1987, 5'
13 Dec 2:00 p.m. Film Auditorium — DAWN OF EDUCATION
— series of films — Non-fiction Animation