Saturday, September 29, 2007

Interesting Online Archival Collections: The Internet Archive's Movie Archive

Located on the Internet are some fascinating sites relating to history studies. One such site is the Internet Archive Movie Archive. This interesting site, a part of the massive Internet Archive, contains literally thousands of online movies. The visitor can find most anything in this collection including big bands of the 1940's, public service films from the 1940's and 1950's, old silent Hollywood movies, and television commericals from the 1950's to modern documentaries. Many of these movies are public domain movies and documentaries.

Of special note in this collection is the Perlinger Archives where nearly 2,000 movies are viewable and downloadable. The Prelinger Archives was founded in 1983 by Rick Prelinger in New York City. Over the next twenty years, it grew into a collection of over 60,000 "ephemeral" (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films. In 2002, the film collection was acquired by the Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.

The Movie Archive is fully searchable and the various collections can be browsed. For example, a simple search of “Mississippi” produced 79 results. Some interesting general searches resulted in the following:

To Hear Your Banjo Play: This 1947 film presents the origin of the banjo, the development of southern folk music and its influence upon Americans. Pete Seeger plays his banjo and narrates the story.

Southern Highlanders: This 1947 film records residents of the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee and their culture.

The Mississippi River Flood of 1927: This 1936 short silent film was produced by the Signal Corps of the Mississippi flood of 1927.

Lewis and Clark: This is a 1950 film dramatization of the expedition made by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the land from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Coast.

The Plantation System in Southern Life: This 1950 documentary is a view of the plantation system and its effect on Southern culture.

Building a Levee With Mule Power: This 1937 documentary footage is from a Depression-era documentary that describes the importance of the Mississippi River.

Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge: This beautiful 2005 documentary was produced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Internet Archive Movie Archive is simply a massive collection of films where the researcher can literally spend hours on end viewing all types of movies – everything from television commercials of the 1950’s and Depression era documentaries to Hollywood silent movies and modern films.

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