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More and more newspapers and magazines are making deep archives freely available on the web, dropping requirements for print subscriptions and registration, making it easy to find the full-text of many well-known and respected publications available online. Richard Pérez-Peña wrote an interesting article called Dusting Off the Archives for the Web for the New York Times, saying:
“As magazines and newspapers hunt for the new thing they need to be to thrive in the Internet era, some find that part of the answer lies in the old thing they used to be…For magazines and newspapers with long histories, especially, old material can be reborn on the Web as an inexpensive way to attract readers, advertisers and money.”
Two recent news stories caught my eye, quite literally. Each reported the discovery of a previously-unknown childhood photograph of a legendary American woman. The women couldn’t be more different : the notorious Lizzie Borden and the inspirational Helen Keller. In each case, the newly-discovered photographs give us a rare glimpse into the childhood of these women — in both cases, the new photographs may be the earliest known photographs of their subjects.
Yesterday’s Brainiac column in the Boston Globe, “Everyone’s a historian now,” is about the Library of Congress images on Flickr. Columnist Joshua Glenn admits that asking the crowd to provide identification and information about these pictures makes him nervous, but notes that “so far, so good” and he gives examples of information already provided by Flickr members. “Crowdsourced history — maybe there’s something to it, after all.”
The Library of Congress collections on Flickr have gotten a lot of attention and activity since its launch on January 16. Flickr reported on their blog that in the first twenty-four hours after the launch, users added about 19,000 tags and just over 500 comments. The Library of Congress reported on their blog that all 3,100 + photographs had been viewed, with over 650,000 photo views in total as of the evening of January 17.
The Library of Congress and Flickr have a new pilot project called The Commons. Photographs from two of the American Memory collections, 1930s-40s in Color and News in the 1910s, a total of over 3,000 images.
The first set consists of photographs taken for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and later the Office of War Information (OWI) between 1939 and 1944 and focus on rural areas and farm labor, and World War II mobilization, including factories, railroads, aviation training, and women working, and these records have some descriptive and subject information that’s been carried over to Flickr. The other collection, New in the 1910s, are news photographs from the Bain News Service, taken in about 1910-1912, and there’s minimal information for these.
From 1929 to 1967, Universal City Studios produced newsreels twice a week to be shown at movie theatres before the feature film. Each newsreel was a collection of six or seven short segments, usually just a minute or two in length, covering news, sports, the arts, fashion and more. The whole Universal Newsreel collection was given to the National Archive and placed in the public domain in 1976, and the National Archives is working with CreateSpace, an Amazon subsidiary, to digitize these and other public domain movies and make them available on DVD.
But around 600 of these newsreel clips are available now on the Internet Archive. Some of these have also made their way to YouTube, but the Internet Archive site has better cataloging, higher quality and more file formats. There’s some really amazing stuff here, especially from the Depression and World War II era.
This whole collection could be really interesting for students and others studying the history of the twentieth century, and since it’s all in the public domain, you can do whatever you want with them.
Universal Newsreels — This is the collection page on the Internet Archive website
- Satchmo Swings in Congo — Louis Armstrong arrives in the Congo on his historic Africa tour, October, 1960.
- FDR Urges National Unity — “”Hyde Park, NY: President Roosevelt, in a vigorous speech on the eve of elections, warns the nation that in these troubled times, democracy must be a positive force in order to maintain liberty against military aggression abroad.”
- Wakefield, Mass. — “Support Our Men in Vietnam” rally organized by a high school student draws a crowd of 25,000