Today’s post comes from Markus Most, Director of the Digitization Division at the National Archives.
Here at the National Archives, we’re working on a new, cross-office project to make accessible audiovisual records of World War I and World War II. We are digitizing public domain films and photographs so that they will be available for everyone to use, from teachers and local community groups to designers and filmmakers.
From the homefront to the front lines, these films and photographs tell stories from many different sides of the American experience. We want to enable communities to use them to tell their own stories at the local level. Our Motion Picture Preservation Lab is hard at work digitizing films from both global conflicts. We’ve made 25 films available and will make over 50 more films available this year. Additionally, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the Motion Picture Preservation Lab undertook a full digital restoration of The True Glory. You can view a selection of films on NARA’s Youtube Channel and try your hand at transcribing and translating them on our Amara page.
A War Department film made during WWII detailing the importance of film for training, morale, and entertainment purposes.
To connect this important historical material with the widest possible audience, we’re partnering with Historypin. Historypin is a non-profit public history project that works around the globe to engage communities around local history content. Specifically for this project, Historypin is surveying customers, developing customer summaries, and helping us reach out to new digital content users. We have already worked with Historypin on many exciting projects over the last few years, including the creation of several collections and virtual tours using our holdings, such as Women’s History collections, the March on Washington tour, the 1968 Democratic National Convention tour, and an indoor view of the White House Renovation under President Truman. We have also contributed to several collaborative projects such as the Hurricane Sandy remembrance project and the Abolitionist Map of America interactive map.
We are currently in the first phase of this project. We have reached out to audiences that have already used similar records from the National Archives, as well as those with plans to run commemoration events around upcoming WWI and WWII anniversaries. This is just the first step in providing better access to these materials, and informing how we curate unique experiences around the footage. We are looking forward to seeing how this project helps more people engage with our holdings in new and unique ways!
What audiences do you think we should engage with using our new digitized content?