We are all aware (though sometimes we forget) just how good YouTube is for looking for historical movies. Those that relate to events, to people and places. It is a fabulous resource for getting details of social history – the look, the era, the happenings of the time, the fashion and so on.
Well now is a good time to remind you of this as Associated Press together with British Movietone are uploading 550,000 old movies to YouTube – that’s over a million minutes worth of historical footage.These clips document the most momentous and historic events of the last 120 years. Between the two channels there are clips that capture first hand the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the effects of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and Tiananmen Square’s “Tank Man” – and another 500,000+ more.
AP has built up a staggering archive over its 120 year lifespan. Alwyn Lindsey, AP’s director of international archive, said that the channels would stand as a visual encyclopedia of perhaps the most turbulent century in human history. “At AP we are always astonished at the sheer breadth of footage that we have access to, and the upload to YouTube means that, for the first time, the public can enjoy some of the oldest and most remarkable moments in history.”
People who want to use the clips in their own videos will still need to license them through AP, but the agency says the trove of videos will stand and inspiration for filmmakers. While the archive is full of tragedies like the Hindenberg disaster, we can see that even before the internet, earlier generations shared our current affinity for cat videos with some cut cat videos dating back to 1946.
Below you’ll find three short videos from their vast collection. So go, have fun, and discover history in a visual way!