Author Archives: Jenica Jessen

Peace, Love, and Quantum Physics

Promotional poster for Infinite Potential

In the middle of a tumultuous period, peace is more important than ever. This year, the Internet Archive celebrated the International Day of Peace with a screening of the film Infinite Potential: The Life & Ideas of David Bohm—an exploration of a maverick physicist who turned to Eastern wisdom for insights into the profound interconnectedness of the universe and our place within it. Hosted by the Fetzer Memorial Trust and Imagine Films on September 20th, the event also included a special panel discussion on how Bohm’s ideas can be translated into a pathway to peace in the modern world.

David Bohm

Infinite Potential examines the life of David Bohm, a theoretical physicist from Pennsylvania who was forced to flee the United States during the Cold War due to his Communist leanings. Pursuing his research in Brazil, Israel, and the United Kingdom, he was exposed to a wide variety of different ideas and ideologies, which all shaped his interests in quantum physics, philosophy, and the nature of consciousness. His relationships with thinkers such as Jiddu Krishnamurti and Albert Einstein further shaped his ideas, leading him to develop unique theories about the fundamental nature of reality and our perception of it.

The screening of the documentary was followed by a panel entitled Quantum Potential: A Pathway to Peace, featuring several prominent leaders and activists. These included Dot Maver, Founding President of the National Peace Academy; Reverend Dr. Michael B. Beckwith, Founder and Spiritual Director of the Agape International Spiritual Center; Audrey Kitagawa, Board Chair of the Parliament of World Religions; Civil rights leader Reverend Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr.; Bob Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation; and Marianne Williamson, a bestselling author, political activist and spiritual thought leader. Panel members discussed how Bohm’s ideas could be applied to our society, ways in which individuals could advance peace and unity, and why the interconnectedness of humanity matters now more than ever.

Panel discussion—Quantum Potential: A Pathway to Peace

For those who were unable to attend the event, the panel discussion is available online. Additionally, the Internet Archive is home to a number of materials on David Bohm, including several of his writings. Finally, to learn more about our partners and the hosts of this event, browse the the Fezter Memorial Trust collections here.

Back to School With the Internet Archive

As students around the world resume their education, millions of learners are facing uncertainty about school schedules, class formats, and online study. As a nonprofit dedicated to Universal Access to All Knowledge, the Internet Archive provides a number of free resources for parents, students, teachers, and librarians around the world—check out these tools for remote learning!

For Parents

Do you have a budding history buff, wildlife biologist, artist, or stargazer on your hands? Looking for books to entertain and educate them with? We’ve created a number of handy resource guides on a range of subjects, from astronauts to zebras. You can also check out some previous compilations of our favorite collections!

Of course, one of the best ways to support your child’s education is by reading to and with them. The Internet Archive’s Open Library contains thousands of children’s books to check out and enjoy together.

For Students

If you need homework help, The Internet Archive has a huge array of textbooks and study guides. If you’re looking for primary sources to cite in your History assignments, our 26 million historical books and texts are a great place to start; if you’re trying to get through English class we also have thousands of works of literature from around the world.

And if you need a study break? We have a huge collection of educational software and computer games you can play around with. (Not to mention plenty of less-educational games, too!)

For Teachers and Educators

Over the past several months, the Internet Archive has collaborated with a number of educational specialists to determine how our collections can best serve teachers. If you’re trying to plan for an online semester, are wondering how to increase your students’ digital fluency, or want to prepare for long-term distance learning trends, you can find expert analysis and advice on our blog. And if you want to leverage the Open Library to get new material or find lesson plans to make curriculum preparation easier, our doors are always open.

For Librarians

As a nonprofit public library, we know that now more than ever, libraries and librarians matter. While digital librarians are facing unprecedented situations—and formerly analog librarians are being forced to adapt—we’re providing useful resources to library and archive professionals everywhere. You can learn more about how we can enhance course reserves on our blog, or browse our American Libraries archive to explore some of our partners’ collections. We proudly sponsor both Archive-It (an institutional web archiving solution) and the Open Libraries program (which allows libraries to expand their digital holdings using our collections). If you’d like to learn more about how the Internet Archive can help you provide more digital materials to your patrons, sign up for an upcoming webinar!

In these tumultuous times, we want to make sure that students have the tools they need to learn—and we couldn’t offer the resources we do without the help of our partners, donors, and supporters everywhere. Whether you’re looking for homework help, teaching via videoconference, or finding new ways to support your patrons, we hope that our collections prove useful to you.

Stay safe and healthy, and thanks for using the archive!

Things To Do Outdoors With The Internet Archive

Summer is in full swing, but in many areas recreational facilities are closed and gatherings limited. Wondering how to stay entertained when movie theaters, pools, summer camps, amusement parks, playgrounds, concerts, and sporting events are all canceled or closed? The Internet Archive has a huge number of resources that you can use to make your own fun. Here are a few ideas for activities you can do in small groups, outdoors, for free, AND while using our collections!

Go On a Nature Walk

Want to know what kind of rock that is? Ready to try your hand at birdwatching? Curious if any of the plants near your house are edible? Our collections include dozens of field guides and identification books—go on a walk and see how many different flowers, insects, mushrooms, or trees you can find!

Break Out the Sidewalk Chalk

Chalk art has experienced a renaissance during this pandemic, with artists of all ages expressing themselves on the pavement. If you want some inspiration, check out these videos of local chalk art festivals—or browse art from one of our museum image collections. Here are some watercolors from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, paintings from the City Museum of Quito, drawings from the Cleveland Museum of Art, and new additions from the Brooklyn Museum.

Read Outside

There’s nothing quite like a good book enjoyed in the shade of a leafy tree. Grab a blanket, hammock, or lawn chair; pick a title from the Internet Archive’s Open Library; and go read something fun at the beach, on a hilltop, in your city park, by a flower patch, in the woods, next to a river, or even just in your own backyard.

Take Up Gardening

Whether you have a huge patch of soil or a small pot on your windowsill, gardening is a great way to relieve stress and connect with the outdoors. We have a huge selection of books and magazines on gardening, whether you’re an expert horticulturist or just getting started.

Listen to Audiobooks

The Internet Archive is home to thousands of recordings from Librivox—an organization of volunteers that turns public domain texts into free audiobooks. Take a long drive and listen to classic novels such as Treasure Island, Little Women, or Frankenstein. Go on a hike while enjoying books about nature like Walden or The Call of the Wild. Or have a picnic while listening to poetry from the world’s greatest writers.

Turn On the Grill

You don’t have to have a crowd to enjoy some barbecue! Learn some new cooking skills by checking out our huge collection of grilling recipe books. If you don’t have a grill, you can make some summer cocktails instead and sip them on the patio—or you can grab some kindling and learn how to cook over a campfire.

Tell Some Tales

While the fire is going, go ahead and break out your best campfire stories! The Internet Archive has a wide range of folktales, short fiction, and spooky ghost stories. If you want to brush up on your skills, check out our how-to books about storytelling, or browse these recordings of storytelling festivals!

Have an Outdoor Movie Night

If you have a projector and a sheet (or a tent and a tablet computer) go ahead and have a movie night outside! Our video collections include a huge array of silent movies, classic comedies, and animated cartoons—so pop some popcorn and enjoy one of our feature films!

See The Stars

Stargazing is the perfect way to wrap up a summer evening. If you want a guide to the night sky, check out these books on constellations and amateur astronomy. And if you can’t get a good view of the sky from where you’re at, then browse our NASA collections to enjoy a view of the cosmos from wherever you are.

And More

These suggestions just scratch the surface of what’s available in the Internet Archive. If you want more ideas for entertaining activities, check out these books with ideas for outdoor activities. If you’d rather stay indoors, here’s a list of things to do without leaving the house. And of course, there’s no telling what you might find just by wandering through Have a great summer, and enjoy the archive!

100 Great Books From African American Women

Ida B. Wells, Toni Morrison, and Zora Neale Hurston are just three of the authors whose works appear in the Zora Canon.

From the earliest days of American literature, Black women have made invaluable contributions—although their work was often discounted, criticized, or ignored. To counter this history, the online publication Zora (named for author Zora Neale Hurston) created The Zora Canon, a collection of the 100 most prominent books written by African American women. Even better, most of these books are available to check out for free on the Internet Archive!

“To our knowledge,” write the editors of Zora, “no one has ever compiled a comprehensive list specifically featuring the finest literary works produced by African American women authors. We decided to undertake that effort both to honor that still underappreciated group of writers and to provide [readers] with a handy reference guide to their work. ”

The books were compiled in consultation with a panel of academics, critics, authors, editors, and authorities on African American women’s literature, who each added to the final list. The result was 100 works spanning more than a century and a half in a huge variety of genres and styles, including novels, plays, poetry, memoirs, anthologies, and scholarly works. “Taken together,” write the editors, “the works don’t just make up a novel canon; they form a revealing mosaic of the Black American experience during the time period. They’re also just great reads. ”

As part of our commitment to offering Universal Access to All Knowledge, the Internet Archive works to share literature from diverse perspectives—which is why we were pleased to discover that most of the books in the Zora Canon are already available in our collections. Many of them are available for checkout—all you have to do is sign up for a digital library card—while a few are in the public domain, allowing anybody to download them without limitation. Some of the books that aren’t yet available can be added through our Book Sponsorship program, so that future readers can discover and enjoy them. 

If you’d like to read some of the books on the list, check out the links below! If you want to expand your reading further, you can also browse our #1000 Black Girl Books Collection (which features a range of books with Black girls and women as the protagonists) or our full list of works by Zora Neale Hurston. Happy reading!

The Zora Canon

A Mercy by Toni Morrison

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

A Voice From the South: By a Black Woman of the South by Anna Julia Cooper

African American Music: An Introduction by Mellonee V. Burnim and Portia K. Maultsby

Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks

All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, 1830–1900 by Martha S. Jones

All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave edited by Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith

Blacks by Gwendolyn Brooks

Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith

Blue-Chip Black by Karyn R. Lacy

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall

Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody

Corregidora by Gayl Jones

Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness by Simone Browne

In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose by Alice Walker

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

Invisibility Blues: From Pop to Theory by Michele Wallace

Iola Leroy by Frances Harper

Jubilee by Margaret Walker

Killing the Black Body by Dorothy E. Roberts

Linden Hills by Gloria Naylor

Magical Negro by Morgan Parker

Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks

Meridian by Alice Walker

Moses, Man of the Mountain by Zora Neale Hurston

Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey

Oreo by Fran Ross

Our Nig by Harriet E. Wilson

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

Passing by Nella Larsen

Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in School by Monique W. Morris

Quicksand by Nella Larsen

81. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin

Radiance From the Waters: Ideals of Feminine Beauty in Mende Art by Sylvia Ardyn Boone

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Sassafrass, Cypress, and Indigo by Ntozake Shange

Selected Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Sula by Toni Morrison

Sweat by Lynn Nottage

Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica by Zora Neale Hurston

The Black Christ by Kelly Brown Douglas

The Black Woman: An Anthology by Toni Cade Bambara

The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton edited by Kevin Young and Michael S. Glaser

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Ethnic Project: Transforming Racial Fiction Into Ethnic Factions by Vilna Bashi Treitler

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

The Flagellants by Carlene Hatcher Polite

The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou

The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

The Red Record by Ida B. Wells

The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara

The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni: 1968–1995 by Nikki Giovanni

The Street by Ann Petry

The Third Life of Grange Copeland by Alice Walker

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor

Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman

We a BaddDDD People by Sonia Sanchez

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins

When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Paula Giddings

Where We Stand: Class Matters by bell hooks

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson

Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde

Happy 404 Day! 

Saturday is April 4th (4/04), and here at the Internet Archive we’re marking a new holiday: 404 Day! We’re using this date to celebrate the work that’s being done to end the dreaded 404 error, record changing webpages, and preserve the internet for all to enjoy. We spoke with Gary Price—librarian, editor of InfoDocket, and a prolific user of the Wayback Machine—about why web archiving is important and how ordinary people can fight back against “link rot.” 

Preserving the Past

Why does the Wayback Machine matter? “We’re in a period right now where the tools the Internet Archive has developed are more important than ever before,” Price said. “In my work as a librarian I’ve learned how easily things can ‘disappear’. Something you see could be removed within a fraction of a second, and the next time you look it’s gone.”

An old hymnal board at the Internet Archive's 
headquarters—filled in with HTTP response codes
An old hymnal board at the Internet Archive’s
headquarters—filled in with HTTP response codes

Similar losses have happened for newly developed media in the past, Price explained. For example, a huge amount of early television footage disappeared because nobody recorded or archived it at the time. The issue is compounded when dealing with a massive system like the Internet, which is constantly growing and changing. “There’s really nothing like the Wayback Machine,” he said. “It’s so important for historical purposes.”

Price believes that it’s even more crucial to preserve information in the midst of a crisis. “With COVID-19,” he said, “we have a global event going on where nobody knows how it’s going to end. Most of it is going to play out on the Internet. If we don’t archive it now, the record for the future is not going to be as complete as it could have been. We need to make it so that we’ll have a complete record of this pandemic to learn from: primary documents, news reports, local materials, and digital ephemera.”

Making the Most of the Wayback Machine

There are a number of useful tools that can make the Wayback Machine part of your daily internet experience. If you want to avoid running into 404 errors in the future, then the easiest thing you can do is integrate the Wayback Machine into your browser. We’ve created a handy series of browser extensions for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox that allow you to view archived versions of webpages with just the click of a button. And if you use the Brave browser, that functionality is directly integrated into the browsing experience!

The Wayback Machine browser extension
The Wayback Machine browser extension in action

Curious about how a webpage has shifted over time? The Changes feature is an easy way to compare two versions of the same webpage side-by-side. We deployed this feature last fall to make it easier than ever to see how the web is evolving.

In addition to the hundreds of millions of URLs archived by the Wayback Machine staff every day, several tens of millions of URLs are archived because they were submitted by the general public via the Save Page Now feature. If you come across something that you think needs to be preserved, you can use this tool to ensure that the Wayback Machine captures a snapshot of it. It’s as simple as visiting and pasting your desired URL in. If you have the browser plugin, you can save any page you visit with the click of a button!

The Save Page Now feature
The Save Page Now feature

Getting Started

What advice does Price have for beginning archivers? “The first thing to do,” he says, “is to sign up for an Internet Archive account. It gives you a lot of great features, but my favorite is the option to not only archive a page, but also to archive all of those outbound links in that page.”

Price also recommends that new users make their archiving personal. “Just start recording things you’re already looking at on a daily basis! The articles you read, interesting websites, information pages from your university, local news, and so on. It doesn’t take a long time—you’re already reading the webpage, so just press the ‘Save Page Now’ button.”

Since big news stories or major websites are usually crawled automatically, Price recommends that citizen archivists make sure to include local, personal, and small-scale websites. “It’s about the little stuff, the obscure stuff, the stuff that’s buried three layers deep. That’s not going to get covered in the same way as the most popular content, and it might not get covered at all if you don’t add it. That’s why the individual doing it is so important.”

Last but not least, Price says, “Do what you can! Add stuff that you’re interested in or think is worth saving. Make it a habit, and spread the word to people you know!”

If you want to celebrate 404 Day with us, there are a lot of ways to get started! Download the Firefox, Chrome, or Safari browser extensions, save a webpage, revisit the past, or make a donation to help us keep the Wayback Machine humming along.

Happy archiving!

One of the earliest captures of
One of the earliest captures of

7 Things To Do If You Can’t Leave The House

“Quarantine,” “isolation,” “social distancing”—there are a lot of names for the same problem. Millions of people are being forced to alter their schedules and stay indoors due to the spread of COVID 19 (coronavirus). If you’re stuck at home, you may be asking yourself exactly what you’re going to do all day… and the Internet Archive is here to help!

If you’ve got an internet connection and some time to kill, there are plenty of ways to keep yourself entertained. Here are some of our favorites!

1. Celebrate Cinema

Feel like watching a classic movie? Our Feature Film Archive contains thousands of public domain films, shorts, and trailers, including classics such as Night of the Living Dead, His Girl Friday, and The Most Dangerous Game. You can browse Charlie Chaplin’s movies, watch modern animation such as Sita Sings The Blues, or learn about the life of Aaron Swartz; you can also check out our sizeable collection of silent productions, film noir, and historic comedy. With a huge range of genres, there’s something for everybody!

2. Become a Bookworm

There’s nothing like a good book to take you somewhere else. Both the Internet Archive’s Book Collection and Open Library feature thousands of engaging reads, from ancient classics to popular new additions. Browse thrillers, romance novels, biographies, self-help books, science fiction, political works, educational material, or whatever other genre sparks your interest; check out what’s popular and what’s recently available. And even if you don’t know what you want to read yet, then try picking a book at random—or even just asking a question and seeing what you find!

3. Let The Games Begin

If gaming is more your speed, then check out the MS-DOS Games in our Software Library. This collection includes dozens of classic favorites such as Pac-Man, Sim City, The Oregon Trail, Doom, Prince of Persia, Donkey Kong, and Tetris, as well as many more lesser-known titles such as Aliens Ate My Baby Sitter! and Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist. Enjoy simulations of popular board and card games such as Monopoly, Stratego, Hearts, or Mah Jong, as well as flight simulators, sports games, and this treat for Monty Python fans.

4. Tune In To An Old Radio Show

Before podcasts (or the internet, or even TV) there were radio shows. Even if you’ve never listened to an old-time radio broadcast, chances are you’re familiar with some of the pop-culture touchstones they created—from My Favorite Husband (which was later adapted into the TV show I Love Lucy) to Dragnet (with its famous catchphrase “Just the facts, ma’am.”). If you want to shake up your listening habits, you can explore sitcoms like The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, mysteries like The Whistler, or iconic Westerns such as Have Gun, Will Travel, Tales Of The Texas Rangers, and (of course) Gunsmoke.

5. Pick Up A New Hobby

If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, then you can put it to good use by learning a new skill! Ever wanted to take up origami? Knitting? Woodworking? Want to sharpen your drawing technique or become a maze-solving master? If cooking is your thing, maybe you can attempt a new cuisine or learn to bake a fancy dessert—if you have to stay home, at least eat well!

6. Listen To Live Concerts

Want to enjoy a musical performance without having to leave the house? The Live Music Archive contains thousands of concert recordings for hundreds of artists. Our most popular collection by far is The Grateful Dead, but you could also explore Smashing Pumpkins, Robert Randolph (and the Family Band), Disco Biscuits, Death Cab for Cutie, John Mayer, or Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. (If wizard rock is more your style, we also have several concerts from Harry and the Potters.) Take a look and see if any of your favorite artists are in here!

7. Do Some Exploring

This list only scratches the surface of what’s available within the Internet Archive. Relive the 80’s and 90’s (and learn how to style your scarf) with the Ephemeral VHS collection, or roam the cosmos with the NASA Image of the Day gallery. Learn about the history of advertising with this collection of retro TV ads or enjoy some psychedelic screensavers. No matter how long you’re stuck indoors, the Internet Archive will have something new to offer you—so happy hunting!

School’s Out… Or Is It?

The recent concern around coronavirus has led to school closures in several US states and more than 30 different countries. Even when there aren’t any epidemics in progress, anything from power outages and snow days to full-blown natural disasters can shut down a school, interrupting the learning process and leaving bored children with time to fill.

The Internet Archive’s mission is Universal Access to All Knowledge, and that includes making it possible for anyone to receive a quality education, anytime, anywhere. School closures are a perfect time to take advantage of online learning—any student with an internet connection can enjoy a huge variety of books on virtually any subject, even accessing the collections of other schools and public libraries.

Alexis Rossi, Director of Collections here at the Internet Archive, has curated a list of resources that can help children continue their education outside of the classroom. If you’re facing a school closure, here’s a handy guide to help you find educational materials on a few popular subjects. And if you need resources for a topic that isn’t on this list, feel free to search the archive and spend the closure diving in to our collections!


The oldest stories in the world still tell thrilling tales. If you’re fascinated by Isis and Osiris or want to know who first stole fire, check out this collection of books on myths and legends !

Outer Space

Did you know that it sometimes snows on Mars? Or that a day on Venus is longer than a year? This collection of books and multimedia about the cosmos contains plenty of fun facts to inspire budding astronomers.

Children’s Literature

A few years ago The New York Public Library published a list of the top 100 children’s books from the previous 100 years, a “who’s who” of childhood favorites—from Dr. Seuss to JK Rowling, from Goodnight Moon to Esperanza Rising. The best part is that most of these books are on the Internet Archive and can be checked out for free!

The American Revolution

Calling all history buffs! If you want to learn about the writers who called for independence, the spies who gathered information, the women who joined the war effort, or the everyday citizens who survived a world-changing revolution, this is the place.

1000 Black Girl Books

When 11-year-old Marley Dias noticed that her school reading list was mostly stories about “white boys and dogs”, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Marley curated a collection of 1000 books that featured black girls as the protagonists, and the Internet Archive is working hard to digitize them all so that everyone can read them. Check out the books we have so far!


Who doesn’t love learning about dinosaurs? Run with velociraptors, fly with pteranodons, and swim with ichthyosaurs with this collection of Jurassic gems!


Widely considered one of the greatest writers in the English language, William Shakespeare’s works have been read by generations of schoolchildren. Since all his works are in the public domain, you can read multiple editions of them online—along with helpful notes, commentaries, and study guides!

Study Breaks

Can you make it to the Willamette Valley without dying of dysentery? Or beat Bobby Fischer in a game of chess? The Internet Archive is home to a variety of fun and educational computer games from years past, including “The Oregon Trail”, “Spellevator”, “Number Munchers”, “Grammar Gobble”, “Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess”, and “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego”.

If you prefer analog activities, we also have a range of puzzles and games, coloring books, sudoku grids, and other activity books that kids of all ages can enjoy. Feel free to print and play!

Other Resources

Looking for more formal educational resources? The Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education has produced a series of lesson plans on a huge variety of subjects, from the history of Yugoslavia to the principles of economics to the basics of haiku. Take a look!

Outside of the Internet Archive, other useful educational resources include Khan Academy,, and your local library’s websites (here’s the San Francisco Public Library’s kids portal).

Whether you’re facing a school closure or not, the Internet Archive is a great resource for children’s educational materials. If you want to support our mission of Universal Access To All Knowledge, click here to donate. And if you have any other suggestions for items in our collections that could be useful, leave them in the comments!

Love Zombies? Thank the Public Domain

With more than 3.1 million views to date, “Night of the Living Dead” is among the most popular feature films on the Internet Archive. The 1968 movie is also generally acknowledged as one of the landmark films of the horror genre, as well as the work that single handedly created the modern conception of the zombie. But none of that would have been possible without a mistake—one that landed the film firmly in the public domain.

Legends about zombies date back to 19th-century Haitian folklore, and originally featured corpses (or even living people) that were enslaved by powerful sorcerers. However, George Romero—who co-wrote and directed “Night of the Living Dead”—created something quite different for his film. Romero’s monsters were cannibals who craved human flesh, serving nobody and nothing except their mindless hunger. They were victims of disease, transformed by being bitten, whose sudden appearance caused entire societies to collapse. In fact, these creatures were so unique that the movie never even called them “zombies”—Romero referred to his creations as “ghouls.”

At one point, this innovative work-in-progress with its innovative monsters was called “Night of the Flesh Eaters,” but the production company decided to change the title to avoid confusion with a preexisting film. The title card was switched to rename the film “Night of the Living Dead,” accidentally omitting the copyright symbol in the process. Under US intellectual property law at the time, the film immediately entered the public domain. Not only could the film be legally copied, shared, and redistributed—which led to its rapid dissemination through American pop culture—but anybody was free to adapt, change, or borrow from it.

What followed was not only a revolution within the horror genre, but an explosion of zombie-related content. “Night of the Living Dead” spawned nine direct sequels and several unofficial ones, as well as hundreds of works taking advantage of an uncopyrighted new monster. Works ranging from “The Walking Dead” to “World War Z,” “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” to “Game of Thrones,” or “Resident Evil” to “Shaun of the Dead” all rely on Romero-type zombies or their derivatives.

Zombies dominate pop culture like few monsters have before or since, in large part because artists and authors can reuse, remix, or adapt them without fear. Night of the Living Dead is a shining example of what happens when quality works come into the public domain, joining the marketplace of ideas. If you want to watch this cinematic masterpiece for yourself, download or stream it here!

From Our Community, With Love

Our 2019 End-of-Year fundraising drive was a big success, raising more than $6 million in individual donations and matched contributions! Just as wonderful, though, was the outpouring of encouragement we received from the thousands of you who contributed. We asked you why you choose to give and here are a few of our favorite replies:

I have been relying on your services for, I think, as long as I have been on the internet. I am 28 and first used the internet when I was 7. I love you.  —Joseph J.

Thank you for preserving that stuff that people think is always going to be there, but isn’t.   —Teresa R.

The powers that shouldn’t be are censoring our luminaries and truth tellers and throttling our right to free intelligent debate… you may be the last remaining vestige of open source knowledge in our near future and you MUST survive!    —Zandra W.

I donated to find new homes for old things          —Theo A.

I’ve been looking for early photoplay magazines for about 50 years, primarily for one set of articles on the beginning of the motion picture, part of which started in my hometown….. still need to find the specific article, but now I know I can find, and even copy it here!!! Great! Thank you so much for your wonderful efforts.  Only wish I could give more!!      —John P.

I appreciate what you’ve done for vintage computing.  —Norman D.

It’s an important resource for all to use. I refer to the Wayback Machine often to show changing sites over time, and sometimes to reconstruct a hacked site! I like watching the videos (Prelinger Archives) on my spare time. Thx!    —Kristin P.

I keep finding gold here!         —Ryan N.

I have loved libraries since I was five years old and have been a librarian for 44 years. If I can help even a little in keeping the Internet Archive going, I am happy to do so.  —Bruce B.

y’all doing gods work      —Bryn D.

This amazing public service you provide must live on!       —Michael N.

Reading is IMPORTANT!       —Sharon G.

I do a lot of research on safety of refrigeration systems. The big companies manufacturing synthetic refrigerants do systematically put data to the public that is obfuscating objective risk assessments. By the Wayback Machine I was able to get important data that was already deleted from the original websites.       —Thore O.

I rely on the Internet Archive to look back at the web as I experienced it when I was young, for my work, and just to satisfy general curiosity. I couldn’t imagine a world without it.         —Paul H.

I LOVE READING and while I prefer books, my home no longer has book space…..So many lovers on the shelves. You are providing the opportunity for us to access many writers’ ideas which are no longer available to us at large. Thanks for honoring them.        —Barbara G.

Because we all need this.         —Alessandro T.

(Some comments have been edited for length and clarity.)

From the whole team here at the Internet Archive, we’re grateful from the bottom of our hearts. We couldn’t do this work without your generosity. Thank you for helping us provide universal access to all knowledge—and here’s to a great 2020!

If you’d like to join the many Internet Archive and Open Library supporters who keep us going, we invite you to chip in! Every bit helps in our mission to provide universal access to knowledge.


I’m Done Selling Sweaters. Instead I’m Selling a Vision I Believe In.

Jenica Jessen, Email Campaign Specialist at the the Internet Archive
Jenica Jessen, Email Campaign Specialist at the the Internet Archive

Eight months ago, I was miserable.

On paper, it seemed like everything should be going right. I was working long hours at a promising startup in a rapidly growing industry. My job was to use cutting-edge digital marketing technology to optimize email content; I worked to find the most compelling language possible, to tap into the phrasing and rhetoric that would inspire people and drive them to action. I was learning the craft of perfect subject lines and clickable links, honing my skill set, polishing my resume.

And I hated it.

My emails went to tens of millions of people, but I wasn’t really communicating with any of them. My carefully-tested copy drove thousands upon thousands of purchases, but I wanted to care about something more than some corporation’s bottom line. I was working with some of the most advanced communications tools in the world—and I was using them to sell sweaters.

That wasn’t me.

Let’s go back a decade or so. The high school I attended wasn’t especially distinguished. Our football team was mediocre; our debate team didn’t win championships. The one thing that Riverton High was good at—the thing that made us unique—was Silver Rush.

Riverton High School students caroling in 2010 (courtesy of Jenica’s yearbook).

Silver Rush was our annual holiday fundraiser. (The name was a play on “gold rush;” our mascot was the silverwolf.) Every year, we would pick a charity that helped underserved members of our community: newly-arrived refugees, homeless teens, domestic violence victims. The whole month of December was dedicated to raising money for them. And at that, we excelled.

The great thing about Silver Rush was that it brought the whole school together, and everyone found ways to help out. The choir had a benefit concert. The food science class sold baked goods. The track team did a “fun” run in 20-degree weather. I shoveled snow in exchange for donations, and sang holiday songs outside the local grocery store, and gathered spare change. There were so many events and volunteer opportunities that most nights, I didn’t get home until 8 or 9 PM (and that was before homework). For me and my classmates, the whole month of December dissolved into a cocoa-fueled haze of sleep deprivation, caroling, and the camaraderie that comes from advancing a good cause.

A lot of other schools in the area tried to emulate Silver Rush. Our biggest rival, Bingham High, had a perennial goal of raising more money than we did. But the attempts to create a rivalry missed the point entirely, because the thing that made Silver Rush great was that we weren’t competing with anybody.

Our slogan was “It’s not about the dollars, it’s about the change.” Everyone took it to heart—and the first proof was that nobody knew how much we’d raised until after the fundraiser was over. We weren’t trying to show off; we weren’t trying to prove anything; we were trying to make the world a better place. My senior year we set a new record, raising over $129,000 for children who needed wheelchairs.

A Riverton High School student seeing the final amount Silver Rush raised in 2012.

But it wasn’t the numbers that made Silver Rush the highlight of my high school years. It was the feeling of making a difference.

So by the time 2019 rolled around, as I was working for that digital marketing firm, I couldn’t help but feel that I’d lost my way somehow. I was creating campaigns that earned millions of dollars at a time, but each big win felt a little empty. I couldn’t shake the sense that there was more that I could—should—be doing to give back to society. And I was so sick of writing subject lines about sweaters.

So seven months ago, I applied for a job at the Internet Archive.

What I found at the Archive was something radically different from the world of marketing startups. It was a team with a vision—not of venture capital funding and IPOs, but of a great library for all. It was work with a purpose—not synergy or hypergrowth, but preservation, education, accurate information. And it was an organization that survived not on e-commerce but on people’s goodwill—the dedication of countless volunteers, archivists, librarians, and programmers, as well as thousands of donors big and small.

December at the Internet Archive is a busy time. We launch our end-of-year fundraising drive right around Thanksgiving, and chaos ensues. Everyone is scrambling to make sure that our donation systems work and our banners are up to date, that the letters are sent and the events are organized, that the checks are counted and the newsletter goes out on time. The days are a haze of coding, camaraderie, and—yes—sleep deprivation. This month, I’ve been working long hours; I’ve been trying to craft perfect subject lines; I’ve been looking for ways to inspire people and drive them to action. And I couldn’t be happier.

Just a few of the Internet Archive team members who’ve pitched in to help with fundraising this year.

If you’ve seen an Internet Archive email in your inbox lately—a newsletter or an event announcement or a donation request—I’m the one who put it there. I’m done selling sweaters. I’m selling a vision instead.

It’s a vision of a world without disinformation, a world where verifiable facts are just a click away. It’s a vision of a great library for all, where the best that humanity has ever produced is freely available. It’s a vision of universal access to all knowledge.

So far this year, thousands of people have joined in supporting that vision, chipping in a few dollars to keep the servers running and the lights on. And it’s a privilege to read your comments, and hear your stories, and see the direct impact that your support has on the mission of the Archive.

My favorite moment, so far, came near at the beginning of our fundraising drive, when I happened to check the donations tally. The number is constantly changing, but for one brief moment, I saw it hit exactly $129,000. The same amount we raised for Silver Rush during my senior year of high school.

And for that moment, it felt like the entire world had lined up just right—like I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

If you’d like to contribute to the Internet Archive, please visit You can also show your support by getting the word out on social media or telling your friends and family about our work. We’re grateful for everyone in our community—we couldn’t do it without you.