History on film

There are some fantastic sources for documentary and historical footage out there, including my personal favorites: turn of the century films from the dawn of the cinematic era.

Thomas Edison’s company was in the forefront of filming current events — from relatively banal but riveting-in-hindsight scenes of 1900s New York City, to the wreckage of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor (see pic below). According to the Library of Congress — which has an extraordinary collection of Spanish-American War film — the demand for war footage was particularly acute, although technological limitations made actually filming battle scenes virtually impossible. Enter the bread and butter of the History Channel: the historical reenactment.

Check out the Library of Congress’ other early film collections here.

2 thoughts on “History on film

  1. In the same vein, there is a wonderful resource website dedicated to preserving and making accessible to the public the huge Philadelphia City Archives’ photgraphic collection. http://www.phillyhistory.org. Perhaps a film collection portion of the website soon?!

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