Google Puts National Archives Films Online

Google and the U.S. National Archive and Records Administration today announced a pilot program to put film holdings of the National Archive online for free. The non-exclusive arrangement will make the video available both from Google’s and Nara’s Web sites, and will provide students, researchers, and the general public access to historic movies, documentaries, and other films from anywhere in the world.

“This is an important step for the National Archives to achieve its goal of becoming an archives without walls,” said Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein. “Our new strategic plan emphasizes the importance of providing access to records anytime, anywhere. This is one of many initiatives that we are launching to make our goal a reality. For the first time, the public will be able to view this collection of rare and unusual films on the Internet.”

The pilot program currently includes 101 films from the Archives’ audiovisual collection, including a selection of U.S. government World War II newsreels, a collection of NASA documentaries documenting the manned space program and Apollo moon landings, 1930s films from the Department of the Interior documenting the creation of a nationwide parks system, as well as the earliest film preserved in the archive, Thomas Arnat’s 1894 film of the Spanish Gypsy dancer Camencita.

The National Archives and Google plan to expand the online availability of the archive’s film collection, and are also exploring making the Archives’ extensive textual material available via the Internet.