Google digitizes historic video clips

Students and teachers now have free online access to more than 100 historic films, including old World War II newsreels and NASA documentaries, thanks to an agreement between internet search giant Google Inc. and the National Archives.

Google has digitized the films through a pilot project announced Feb. 24 by United States Archivist Allen Weinstein and Google co-founder and President of Technology Sergey Brin. The non-exclusive agreement will allow scholars, researchers, and the general public to access a diverse collection of historic movies, documentaries, and other films from the National Archives via Google Video, as well as the National Archives web site.

“This is an important step for the National Archives to achieve its goal of becoming an archive without walls,” Weinstein said. “Our new strategic plan emphasizes the importance of providing access to records anytime, anywhere. & For the first time, the public will be able to view this collection of rare and unusual films on the internet.”

Added Brin: “Today, we’ve begun to make the extraordinary historic films of the National Archives available to the world for the first time online. Students and researchers, whether in San Francisco or Bangladesh, can watch remarkable video such as World War II newsreels and the story of Apollo 11–the historic first landing on the moon.”

The pilot program features 103 films from the audiovisual collections preserved at the Archives. Highlights of the project include:

  • The earliest film preserved in the National Archives holdings, “Carmencita: Spanish Dance,” by Thomas Armat, an 1894 film featuring the famous Spanish Gypsy dancer;

  • A representative selection of United States government newsreels from 1941-1945, documenting World War II;

  • A sampling of documentaries produced by NASA on the history of the spaceflight program; and

  • Motion picture films, primarily from the 1930s, that document the history and establishment of a nationwide system of national and state parks–including early footage of modern Native American activities, Boulder Dam, documentation of water and wind erosion, Civilian Conservation Corps workers, and the establishment of the Tennessee Valley Authority. In addition, a 1970 film documents the expansion of recreational programs for inner-city youth across the nation.

    Google said it is exploring the possibility of expanding the project to include more video. The company also said it wants to make the Archives’ extensive textual holdings available via the web, too.


    National Archives footage on Google Video

    National Archives

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