Watching old footage of the first moon landing or marines raising the flag over Iwo Jima used to be the domain of darkened classrooms and film strips that more often than not would snap midway through a projection. But now students—and anyone with an Internet connection—can watch President Truman’s inauguration or the early days of Boulder Dam with just a simple click of a mouse. A joint project between Google and the National Archives has digitized 101 historic films, making them accessible for free from either site as of last month. This the best link: http://video.google.com/nara.html

“This is an important step for the National Archives to achieve its goal of becoming an archives without walls,” says Professor Allen Weinstein, archivist of the United States, in a statement. “This is one of many initiatives that we are launching to make our goal a reality.”

Google picked up the cost on this project, and is in more talks with the National Archives about adding more films to the portal’s site, says Susan Cooper, a spokesperson for National Archives. While the National Archives has partnered with other sites to make some of its nine billion holdings available over the Internet in the past, this is the first time these particular films have appeared on the Web. And it’s a move the repository hopes to repeat given the costs associated with digitizing the materials—and the mammoth size of the materials in the public domain.
“We’re never going to be in a position to put all or any significant amount of our collection up [on the Internet] given our budget,” says Cooper. “It’s just not feasible.”

Advertisements