Last Friday, Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein and Google Co-Founder and President of Technology Sergey Brin announced the launch of a pilot program to make holdings of the National Archives available for free online. This non-exclusive agreement will enable researchers and the general public to access a diverse collection of historic movies, documentaries and other films from the National Archives via Google Video (video.google.com/nara.html) as well as the National Archives website (www.archives.gov).

"This is an important step for the National Archives to achieve its goal of becoming an archives without walls," said Professor Weinstein. "Our new strategic plan emphasizes the importance of providing access to records anytime, anywhere. This is one of many initiatives that we are launching to make our goal a reality. For the first time, the public will be able to view this collection of rare and unusual films on the Internet."

"Today, we've begun to make the extraordinary historic films of the National Archives available to the world for the first time online," said Sergey Brin, co-founder and president of technology at Google. "Students and researchers whether in San Francisco or Bangladesh can watch remarkable video such as World War II newsreels and the story of Apollo 11 - the historic first landing on the Moon."

The pilot program undertaken by the National Archives and Google features 101 films from the audiovisual collections preserved at the Archives. Highlights of the pilot project include:

  • The earliest film preserved in the National Archives holdings by Thomas Armat, "Carmencita - Spanish Dance," featuring the famous Spanish Gypsy dancer,1894;

  • A representative selection of U.S. government newsreels, documenting World War II, 1941-45;

  • A sampling of documentaries produced by NASA on the history of the spaceflight program;

  • Motion picture films, primarily from the 1930s, that document the history and establishment of a nationwide system of national and state parks. Included is early footage of modern Native American activities, Boulder Dam, documentation of water and wind erosion, Civilian Conservation Corps workers, and the establishment of the Tennessee Valley Authority. A 1970 film documents the expansion of recreational programs for inner city youth across the nation.
The National Archives and Google are exploring the possibilities of expanding the online film collection and making the Archives extensive textual holdings available via the Internet.