Category Archives: Movie Archive

Juneteenth – Freedom Day

The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1st, 1863, legally freeing 3.5 million enslaved people in the Confederate states. But of course, this executive order from President Abraham Lincoln came in the midst of the United States Civil War, which didn’t end until April of 1865 – the order could not be enforced until the war was over. 

Juneteenth celebrates when enslaved people actually became free in 1865. The date, June 19th, commemorates General Gordon Granger of the Union Army announcing the executive order in Galveston, Texas, freeing all enslaved people in Texas.

Community access TV stations around the country have shown local celebrations of Juneteenth for years, and we thought this 2013 talk by Dr. Shennette Garrett-Scott at the Allen Public Library in Texas (via Allen City TV) was particularly helpful in understanding the history of this important day.

More resources:

A Public Peek into 1923

Commercial radio broadcasting began in the 1920s, bringing entertainment, news and music into people’s homes. Now, instead of needing to play a 78rpm disc on your phonograph, you could just tune in to listen to popular songs.

And in 1923 that means you would have been listening to one of the many versions of “Yes! We Have No Bananas” written by Frank Silver and Irving Cohn.  

You could listen to the Billy Jones version (play below), the Billy Murray version, a Yiddish version, or an Italian version, among others.

Yes! We Have No Bananas by Billy Jones from the 78rpm collection

Then you could have moved on to dancing the Charleston, popularized by the song of the same name from the 1923 musical “Runnin’ Wild.”   And with the explosion of recordings by African American musicians, you could also enjoy “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home” by Bessie Smith and “Dipper Mouth Blues” by Louis Armstrong.

Autogyro (1934)

In the news of the day you saw the first flight of an autogyro (the precursor to the helicopter).

Jack Dempsey defended his World Heavyweight Championship title against Tommy Gibbons and Luis Firpo.

And Howard Carter’s team finally entered the burial chamber of King Tutankhamen, as covered in books, sheet music and song

But why are we focusing on 1923? Because for the first time in 20 years, new works are entering the public domain in the United States (read more: 1, 2, 3). And those works were all published in, you guessed it, 1923.

Settle in with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, a Butterfinger, or a refreshing Popsicle (all invented in 1923!) while you watch Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten CommandmentsThe White Sister starring Lillian Gish, or The Hunchback of Notre Dame starring Lon Chaney. Or any one of 50 other films available on archive.org from that year.

After your movie marathon, you can turn to your “new” reading materials to learn about sewing the latest women’s fashions, try an old recipe from a cook book (we recommend the Marshmallow Loaf), learn about theatrical lighting, construct yourself a bungalow (um, check the lastest building codes first), grab some sheet music, read up on Benito Mussolini, and learn “How You Can Keep Fit” from Rudolph Valentino (!).

Finally, settle in to read some Robert Frost, Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, or Kahlil Gibran. And while you’re here, take a look at the 20,000 other texts we have available from 1923. 

We look forward to introducing you to 1924 NEXT January!

Images of Afghanistan 1987-1994

Afghan Media Resource Center’s correspondent interviewing a Muj Commander, 1991

Journalists and others risk their lives to keep the public informed in times of conflict. War imagery provides us with important information in the moment, and creates a trove of invaluable archival content for the future.

Please be aware that this collection contains some disturbing photos of violence and its aftermath (though we have not included any in this blog post).

The Afghan Media Resource Center (AMRC) was founded in Peshawar, Pakistan, in 1987, by a team of media trainers working under contract to Boston University. The goal of the project was to assist Afghans to produce and distribute accurate and reliable accounts of the Afghan war to news agencies and television networks throughout the world.  Beginning in the early 1980’s amidst a news blackout imposed by the Soviet backed Kabul government, foreign journalists had become targets to be captured or killed. The AMRC was an effort to overcome the substantial obstacles encountered by media representatives in bringing events surrounding the Afghan-Soviet war to world attention.

An armed Muj posing for the camera, 1988

Beginning in 1987, a series of six week training sessions were conducted at the AMRC original home in University Town, Peshawar, Pakistan.  Qualified Afghans were recruited from all major political parties, all major ethnic groups and all regions of Afghanistan, to receive professional training in print journalism, photo journalism and video news production.  Haji Sayed Daud, a former television producer and journalist at Kabul TV before the Soviet invasion, was named AMRC Director.

After the completion of their training, 3-person teams were dispatched on specific stories throughout Afghanistan’s 27 provinces, with 35mm cameras, video cameras, notebooks, and audio tape recorders. Photo materials were distributed internationally through SYGMA and Agence France Press (AFP). Video material was syndicated and broadcast by VisNews (now Reuters), with 150 broadcasters in 87 countries, Euronews and London-based WTN (now Associated Press), Thames Television, ITN, Swedish, French, Pakistani and other regional networks.

A young girl carrying clean drinking water, 1989

In 2000 AMRC began publishing a popular and influential newspaper in Kabul: ERADA (Intention). With one interruption, ERADA publication continued until 2012.

Beyond the AMRC archive, the AMRC conducted dozens of training programs and workshops for writers and radio journalists, including training programs for Refugee Women in Development (REFWID). The AMRC also established radio and TV studios in the provincial capitaol, Jalalabad, and produced radio and TV programs, including educational radio dramas, for a variety of international organizations. AMRC also conducted public opinion polls in Afghanistan, including an extensive Media Use Survey in Afghanistan, financed by InterMedia, a Washington, D.C. group.

Armed Muj pulling out an unexploded missile, 1989

The AMRC collection spans a critical period in Afghanistan’s history – (1987 – 1994), including 76,000 photographs, 1,175 hours of video material, 356 hours of audio material, and many stories from print media.

An Afghan weaving carpet, 1990

In 2012 AMRC received a grant to digitize the entire AMRC archive, to preserve the collection at the U.S. Library of Congress. AMRC senior media advisors Stephen Olsson and Nick Mills were trained in the digitization processes by the Library of Congress, then spent two weeks in Kabul training the AMRC staff. The digitization and metadata sheets (in English, Dari and Pashto) were completed in 2016, and were welcomed into the Library of Congress with a formal ceremony.  We are now making the entire AMRC collection available through our on-line partner, The Internet Archive.

Now the entire collection is readily available to scholars, researchers and publishers.  All royalties for commercial use of the photo images and video material will continue to support the non-profit work of the AMRC.

Audio / Video player updated – to jwplayer v8.2

We updated our audio/video (and TV) 3rd party JS-based player from v6.8 to v8.2 today.

This was updated with some code to have the same feature set as before, as well as new:

  • much nicer cosmetic/look updates
  • nice “rewind 10 seconds” button
  • controls are now in an updated control bar
  • (video) ‘Related Items’ now uses the same (better) recommendations from the bottom of an archive.org /details/ page
  • Airplay (Safari) and Chromecast basic casting controls in player
  • playback speed rate control now easier to use / set
  • playback keyboard control with SPACE and left , right and up, down keys
  • (video) Web VTT (captions) has much better user interface and display
  • flash is now only used to play audio/video if html5 doesnt work (flash does not do layout or controls now)

Here’s some before / after screenshots:

30 Days of Stuff

Jason Scott, free-range archivist, reporting in as 2017 draws to a close.

As part of our end-of-year fundraising drive, I thought it might be fun to tweet highlighted parts of the vast stacks of content that the Internet Archive makes available for free to millions. A lot of folks know about our Wayback Machine and its 20+ years of website history, but there’s petabytes of media and works available to see throughout the site. I called it “30 Days of Stuff”, and for the last 30 days I’ve been pointing out great items at the Archive, once a day.

You won’t have to swim upstream through my tweets; here on the last day, I’ve compiled the highlighted items in this entry. Enjoy these jewels in the Archive’s collection, a small sample of the wide range of items we provide.

Books and Texts

  • The Latch Key of my Bookhouse was one of the first books scanned by the Internet Archive in its book scanner tests, and it’s a 1921 directory of Children’s Literature that is filled with really nice illustrations that came out great.
  • As part of our ever-growing set of Defense Technical Information Center collection, we have The Role of the Citizens Band Radio Service and Travelers Information Stations In Civil Preparedness Emergencies Final Report, a 1978 overview of CB Radio and what role it might play in civil emergencies. Many thousands of taxpayer-funded educational and defense items are mirrored in this collection.
  • Also in the DTIC collection is The Battalion Commander’s Handbook 1980, which besides the crazy front page of stamps, approvals and sign-offs, is basically a manager’s handbook written from the point of view of the US Army.
  • There are hundreds of tractor manuals at the Archive. Hundreds! Of all types, languages (a lot of them Russian) and level of information. Tractors are one of those tools that can last generations and keeping the maintenance on them in the field can make a huge difference in livelihood.
  • A lovely 1904 catalog for plums called The Maynard Plum Catalogue was scanned in with one of our partner organizations and it’s a breathless and inspiring declaration of the future wonder of the plums this wizard of plum-growing, Luther Burbank, was bringing to the world.
  • Xerox Corporation released “A Metamorphosis of Creative Copying” in 1964, which seems to function as both promotion for Xerox and a weird gift to give to your kids to color in.
  • In 2014, a short zine called The Tao of Bitcoin was released, telling people the dream of $10,000 bitcoin would be real.
  • The 1888 chapbook Goody Two-Shoes has lovely illustrations, and a fine short story.
  • Working with a lovely couple who brought in a 1942 black-owned-businesses directory, I scanned the pages by hand and put them up into this item.
  • Inside that directory was an ad for a school of whistling that said it taught using the methods of Agnes Woodward, and a quick scan of the Archive’s stacks showed that we had an entire copy of her book Whistling as an Art!
  • The medical treatise Sleep and Its Derangements, from 1869, is William A. Hammond, MD’s overview of sleep, and what can go wrong. Scanned from the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, it’s one of many thousands of books we’ve scanned with partners.
  • Let Hartman Feather Your Nest could be described as “A furniture catalog” in the same way the Sistine Chapel could be described as “a place of worship”. The catalog is a thundering, fist-pounding declaration of the superiority of the Hartman enterprise and the quality and breadth of furniture and service that will arrive at your door and be backed up to the far reaches of time.

Magazines

  • Photoplay considered itself the magazine for the motion picture industry in the first part of the 20th century, and this multi-volume compilation of photos, articles and advertisements is a truly lovely overview.
  • There’s over 140 issues of the classic Maximum RockNRoll zine, truly the king of music zines for a very long time. On its newsprint pages are howls and screeches of all manner of punk, rock and the needs of musicians.
  • A magazine created by the Walt Disney Company to trumpet various parts of Disneyland and its attractions was called Vacationland, and this Fall 1965 issue covers all sorts of stuff about the park’s first decade.

Movies

  • Rescued from a warehouse years ago, a collection of Hollywood movie “B-Roll”, unused secondary scenes often filmed by different crew, has been digitized. My personal favorite is [Western Film Scenes], which is circa 1950s footage of a Western Town, all of it utterly fake but feeling weirdly real, to be used in a western. Don’t miss everyone standing around looking right at you and looking like they agree quite energetically with you!
  • No compilation could be complete without the legendary Duck and Cover, a cartoon/PSA that explained the simple ways to avoid injury in a nuclear blast. Just lie down! It’ll be fine. Please note: This Probably Won’t Work. But the song is very catchy.
  • The very weird Electric Film Format Acid Test from 1990 has a semi-interested model holding up a color bar plate in a wide, wide variety of film and video formats. Filmed just a few blocks away from the Internet Archive’s current headquarters.
  • I snuck in a 1992 interview with the Archive’s founder, Brewster Kahle, back when he was 33 and working at WAIS, a company or two before the Archive and where he is asked about his thoughts on information and gathering of data. It’s quite interesting to hear the consistency of thought.
  • The Office of War Information worked with Disney to create “Dental Health“, a film to show to troops about proper dental care. It’s a combination of straightforward animation and industrial film-making worth enjoying.

Audio

  • We have a collection of hours of the radio show The Shadow from 1938-1939, starring  Orson Welles at 23, at the height of his performance powers, playing the dual main role.
  • For Christmas Eve, we pointed to “Christmas Chopsticks”, a 1953 78rpm record of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” performed to the tune of the classic piano piece “Chopsticks”; one of tens of thousands of 78rpm records the Archive has been adding this year.
  • On Christmas, a user of the Archive uploaded two obscure albums he’d purchased on eBay – remnants of the S. S. Kresge Company, which became K-Mart, and which were played over the PA system for shoppers. He got his hands on Albums #261 and #294.
  • Earlier in the month before the user uploaded those Christmas albums, I linked to a different holiday collection of K-Mart items, a 1974 Reel-to-Reel that started with a K-Mart jingle and went full holiday from there.
  • Before he was a (retired) talk show host, and before he was a stand-up comedian, David Letterman worked and trained in radio. Happily, we have recordings of Dave Letterman, DJ, from when he was 22, at Ball State University.
  • Ron “Boogiemonster” Gerber has been hosting his weekly pop music recycling radio show, “Crap from the Past”, for over 25 years, and he’s been uploading and cataloging his show to the Archive for well over 10 of those years, including all the way back to the beginning of his show. The full Crap From The Past archive is up and is hundreds of hours of fun.
  • The truly weird “Conquer the Video Craze” is a 1982 record album with straightforward descriptions of how to beat games like Centipede, Defender, Stargate, Dig Dug, and more. This album has been sampled from by multiple DJs to bring that extra spice to a track.
  • Over 3,000 shows at the DNA Lounge are at the archive, including “Bootie: Gamer Night“, which combines mash-up tracks and video games. Bootie has been playing at DNA Lounge for years, and puts the audio from one song with the singing from another, and… it’s quite addicting, like games. This night was for the nearby Game Developers’ Conference being held the same week.

Software

  • In 2011, as part of a “retrocomputing” competition, we saw the release of “Paku-Paku”, a pac-clone program which ran in an obscure early PC-Compatible graphics mode that was very colorful and very small (160×100) and was built perfectly for it. You can play the game in your browser by clicking here.
  • Psion Chess is a game for the Macintosh that can play both you and itself with pretty high levels of skill and really sharp and crisp black and white graphics.  It makes a really great screensaver in self-playing mode.

People often overuse a phrase like “Barely scratched the surface”, but I assure you there are millions of amazing items in the archive, and it’s been a pleasure to bring some to light. While the 30 Days of Stuff was a fun way to stretch out a month of fundraising with stuff to see every day, we’re here 24/7 to bring you all these items, and welcome you finding jewels, gems and clunkers throughout our hard drives whenever you want.

Thanks for another year!

Film Screening: Lost Landscapes of LA on August 7

By Rick Prelinger

Lost Landscapes of Los Angeles (2016, 83 minutes) is an experimental documentary tracing the changing city of Los Angeles (1920s-1960s), showing how its landscape expresses an almost infinite collection of mythologies. Made from home movies and studio-produced “process plates” — background images of the city shot by studio cinematographers for rear projection in feature films — Lost Landscapes depicts places, people, work and daily life during a period of rapid urban development. While audience  members are encouraged to comment, discuss and ask questions during the screening of this silent film, it is also a contemplative film that shows the life and growth of the U.S.’s preeminent Western metropolis as the sum of countless individual acts.

Lost Landscapes of Los Angeles is the latest of Rick Prelinger’s “urban history film events,” featuring rediscovered and largely-unseen archival film footage arranged into feature-length programs. Unlike most screenings, the audience makes the soundtrack — viewers are encouraged to identify places, people and events; ask questions; and engage with fellow audience members. While the films show Los Angeles as it was, the event encourages viewers to think about (and share) their ideas for the city’s future. What kind of a city do we want to live in?

Rick Prelinger is an archivist, filmmaker, and educator. He teaches at UC Santa Cruz and is a board member of Internet Archive. His films made from archival material have played at festivals, museums, theaters, and educational institutions around the world. Lost Landscapes of San Francisco (11 episodes, 2006-2016) plays every autumn in San Francisco. He has also made urban history films in Oakland and Detroit, and is currently producing a New York film for an autumn premiere. He thanks Internet Archive and its staff for making this film possible.

Get Tickets Here

Monday, August 7th, 2017
6:30 pm Reception
7:30 pm Interactive Film Program

Internet Archive
300 Funston Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94118

Internet (Film) Archive – A Screening: Monday June 5 at 7 pm

Join us for an evening of fun, nostalgia and learning with a screening of the rarest, corniest and weirdest films from the Internet Archive’s collection of Educational Media. This curated screening of digitized and 16mm films will also include favorites as voted by IA users and staff.

RSVP at eventbrite.com

Browse the collection at archive.org/details/educationalfilms.

Nominate your favorite films at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WZFS2MD

(Educational) Film of the Week: A Shooting Gallery Called America (NBC, 1975)

Because of their role as pedagogical tools directed at students and the general public, educational films have often been the subject of controversy, especially when they tackle fraught social issues from a particular point of view. While it might seem like the debate on gun control, mass shootings and police violence has only recently mushroomed to extraordinary proportions — at least as far as its coverage in the print, broadcast and electronic press is concerned — the issue has a much longer history, including in documentaries and non-theatrical films.

One such film that originated as a TV documentary special on NBC, but whose inclusion in the Internet Archive’s educational films collection indicates its distribution in the K-12 and college film circuit, bears the rather poignant title A Shooting Gallery called America (1975).

The early 1970s were a period fraught with debate about gun control, especially after the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy.

Interestingly enough, a pamphlet issued the previous year by the National Coalition to Ban Handguns had the exact same title, providing evidence of a coordinated campaign for gun control that deployed statistics, testimonies and visual materials calculated to have an emotional impact.

The program caused as polarized a response in 1975 as one would expect a similar broadcast to cause today. NBC received thousands of letters from supporters of both sides of the debate (starting before the program had even been broadcast!) with arguments that have remained almost constant to the present day.

Said one: “We can give you our opinion of your Sunday, March 2nd special ‘Shooting Gallery Called America.’ It stank.

“We found it nothing more than a rehash of the same tired old theme: blame the instrument, not the criminal.”

Another read: “I would like to commend NBC for its coverage of the gun problems in this country. The special, A Shooting Gallery Called America, was very informative. I would like to see it again.”

Producer Lucy Jarvis who would go on to direct many similar documentaries on social causes, later recalled the storm of controversy unleashed by this special:

“People knew we were doing it, and we began to get lots of mail,” she said. ” Probably they were alerted by a national organization. Because there was such an emotional reaction, I didn’t want the program to go until I was doubly sure that everything was checked out.”

As a result the airing date was pushed back on two occasions.

The statistics presented  by the journalists — number of handguns and rifles, number of victims in shooting crimes and accidents — have only gotten worse with the passage of four decades. But the visual vocabulary established by documentaries like this one, from footage of shooting ranges to interviews at gun shows on the one hand and with families of victims of gun violence on the other, will be more than familiar to viewers of cable and network news in 2016.

As a recent article revisiting the program and its reception forty years ago put it in a rather rhetorical fashion: “Why has nothing changed in 40 years?”

 

 

(Educational) Film of the Week: Now is the Time (1967)

The Internet Archive’s educational film collection is particularly rich in films from the 1960s and 1970s. As a result, events and movements of national and international important like the Vietnam War (Interviews with My Lai veterans (1970)) and the Civil Rights movement (Civil rights movement: the North (1966)) are well represented.

One of the more interesting and hard-to-find ones is surely Now is the Time (1967) featuring Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee (a couple in real life).

Davis and Dee participated in a variety of similarly themed film, including some in our collection like Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad (1964).

Produced for NBC’s local affiliate in Philadelphia and originally broadcast on December 13, 1967 (a few weeks before the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination), the tone of Now is the Time is that of reporting on history as it happens. Although it does not pretend to impartiality – the two hosts act as voices-of-conscience and often speak  in the first person – it cover the decade’s events succinctly and accurately: a story of anger but also of a people of “remarkable strength.” Archival footage, interviews, songs and music compliments the evocative staged vignettes between Davis and Dee in the studio.

The film won a number of awards and was featured in a number of prominent publications about educational film, including Richard A. Maynard’s The celluloid curriculum: how to use movies in the classroom (1971, see page 29) and was even the subject of a recent Master’s thesis (JoyEllen Freeman, Portrayal of Power: Black Nationalism in the Documentary Now Is the Time, University of Georgia, 2011)

This a wonderful example of how programs on current affairs that by the 1960s had transitioned from the newsreel to the TV set, where often repurposed in the opposite direction; transferred on 16mm these “films” often had a second life in the educational and non-thetrical market. Indeed, it is striking to find a film as opinionated and potentially controversial as The Time is Now  in the curriculum of public schools (in this case in the state of Pennsylvania). This is just another indication of how varied, transmedial and socioculturally rich the medium of the educational film was during its heyday.

Dimitrios Latsis

CLIR-Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation for the Visual Studies, The Internet Archive

Film of the Week: Film Firsts (1959-60)

The Internet Archive is actively engaged in digitizing a wide variety of educational films on science, education, the arts, psychology, medicine and history. In this new blog series, we will highlight films that are newly digitized and available each week on the collection page, to provide visitors with a better idea of the breadth and depth of this quirky, informative and much-in-need-of-preservation medium: the non-theatrical film.

First up is Film Firsts a documentary in two parts (Part 1 and Part 2) covering the early history and development of the medium of motion pictures.


Our collection is rich in films about the film medium itself, whether aspects of its production (e.g. Cinematographer) or its history (e.g. Hollywood: The Golden Years and Hollywood the Dream Factory). Film Firsts, however, focuses on the early part of cinema’s developed the period usually described as early and silent cinema.

Produced for television audiences (ABC) but also screened for school groups and other non-theatrical audiences, the two-part, hour-long documentary does not exactly amount to a thorough and unbiased history but it is very representative of this reflexive sub-genre that dealt with the evolution of the motion picture. Often such films catered to the audience’s nostalgia in an era where memories of the nickelodeon and the picture palace were very much alive. They also provided a venue for studios to repurpose their library of films for the era of television. Finally, in a more implicit manner, they partook in an evolutionary rhetoric that cast the turn-of-the-century flickers as a primitive manifestation  of an art and industry that by the 1950s and 60s had blossomed into a global entertainment empire.

While film historians have long pointed out the fallacy in such reasoning, it is still useful to  consider these compilation/history documentaries for the narrative of film’s development that they provide, the moments along this trajectory that they choose to highlight and, just as important, what they obscure or gloss over.

Film Firsts has references to all the usual highlights: Edison’s Black Maria studio, Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, Melies’ Trip to the Moon, as well as a substantial section on early Westerns. This reflects the origins of the project in director Paul Killiam’s “Movie Museum” talks covering “films of historical interest illustrated by clips of vintage 1895 to 1915.” Many similar compilation films started as programs of the lecture circuit, reflecting a significant practice of the non-theatrical market.

Focusing on well-known “screen personalities” like Bronco Billy Anderson, but also delving into more idiosyncratic, behind-the-scenes aspects of the art and craft of moviemaking like special effects and animation, Killam compiles a list of “bests” and “firsts”: the first close-up, the first kiss, the first cartoon, the first western, the first use of lighting for effect, etc. Although, even with the resources that historians and archivists have today it is always perilous to claim any single example of an effect, practice or technique as “the first” of its kind, the authoritative voice of the documentary accurately represents an early vein of film historiography (see also works by Terry Ramsay and Maurice Bardèche and Robert Brasillach in the same period). As the medium was entering its second half-century of life, it was taking stock of pioneers, sentimentally remembering great moments and stars of the past, and “leafing” through its own history, as one might leaf through an old scrapbook or album of photographs.

Film Firsts thus represents this early “scrapbook” phase of historiography, crucial in that it was conducted by the medium itself in an era where it’s viability was threatened by the popularity of television — which is here deployed in the service of the older medium. It was actually the first episode in a six-part series entitled “Silents Please! The History of the Motion Picture” that promised an overview of “the stars, thrills, laughter and heartbreak” of silent cinema. Whether a nostalgic look on a much-evolved medium, a semi-authoritative account of the people and technology that made the motion picture possible or a potpourri of clips and firsts for the consumption a television audience, the film is a valuable document of historiography in practice and as such a valuable addition to our collection covering the history of educational audiovisual media.

For more information on the film see:

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1998-06-25/features/9806250371_1_silent-film-silent-era-killiam-collection

Dimitrios Latsis

CLIR-Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation for the Visual Studies, Internet Archive.