1,000,000 minutes of historical news on YouTube

Remember when British Pathé uploaded their archives to YouTube last year and I was all “Smell ya later, guys. I’ma be watching newsreels for the next 48 hours straight.”? Well, those 85,000 historic films comprising 3,500 hours of footage were a modest little rabbit hole compared to this one. The Associated Press and its partner British Movietone are putting their entire archives on YouTube. That’s a grand total of more than 550,000 videos and 16,500 hours of footage filmed from 1895 until the present. The British Movietone channel will host the oldest pieces, footage from 1895 through 1986. The AP channel has plenty of historical news as well, but also focuses on current events with new film from its breaking news channel added daily.

They’re also bringing together the past and the present in a very clever way. In the wake of the publication of that video of the future Queen being taught how to do the Nazi salute in 1933 when she was seven years old, British Movietone put together a collection of videos showcasing pre-World War II attitudes to Nazism and Fascism in England. Even polar bears were being taught the Nazi salute in 1934.


In happier memories, English football fans won’t want to miss the glorious conclusion of the 1966 World Cup final between England and West Germany in color for the first time. (The whole match is available in black and white here for comparison.)


The 1906 San Francisco earthquake, filmed almost 110 years ago:


I remember this clip like it was yesterday:


The AP has been very slow to adapt to the brave new world of free online content. It wasn’t that long ago that they were issuing cease-and-desist letters to bloggers who quoted too much of an article. They’ve had their video archives available on their own website for some time, but only unembeddable, painfully low resolution previews. The good stuff had to be paid for, which left it the province of documentarians and big budget news outlets. It’s nice to see the AP finally catch on to the fact that they’ll get more licensing requests by opening up their archives to the place pretty much everyone goes to look for videos rather than by keeping them squirreled away on their website.

Alright guys, smell ya later. If you don’t hear from me in a month, send food and water. I won’t be needing soap BECAUSE I’M NEVER LEAVING THE HOUSE AGAIN.

6 thoughts on “1,000,000 minutes of historical news on YouTube

  1. When British Pathé uploaded their archives to YouTube last year, I found amazing footage that I (an ordinary citizen interested in history) would never have had access to before. Brilliant!

    Great that AP will be opening up their archives to everyone as well. Will they be producing a comprehensive list of their archived material, preferably dated?

  2. There was still a cinema in Edinburgh devoted to newsreels in the sixties. Elsewhere too?

    As for Nazi salutes, we used to do them as satire throughout the 1950s. The index finger of your other hand was put under your nose to act as the toothbrush moustache. In 1960 a classmate of mine was given a terrific ticking-off for doing one in Cologne during a school trip to Germany. Or “Garmany calling” as we used to say.

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