Whether you want to relive Beatlemania, revisit the horrific days of the John F. Kennedy assassination or relax with old newsreels of entertainment icons, there are more than 20,000 hours of film clips for viewing online. As part of a giant project completed last month, AP and its sister company British Movietone have uploaded more than 550,000 clips to YouTube, and all are free to watch.
AP's clips (nwsdy.li/archiveap) are often raw footage with no narration. The content was aimed at TV news outlets that would take snippets of the coverage and edit them into their own reports. The British Movietone archive (nwsdy.li/movietone) features newsreels shown in movie theaters throughout Great Britain, although many subjects focused on U.S. events. "Each has a slightly different experience," says Alwyn Lindsey, AP's London-based director of international archive. "It's why we decided to go with two separate channels."
With clips dating to 1895, finding the specific ones you want can take some effort. Searching by date will usually not be rewarding because most clips are not tagged by when they were shot. "People have to search by theme or subject's name," Lindsey says. Combining search words will lead to better results, such as "Nixon Watergate" or "Kennedy assassination."
The raw footage on the AP archive is like seeing history unfold. For example, a seven-minute clip of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s arrest in Selma, Alabama, after a voting rights demonstration in 1965 features crowd scenes, an inflammatory news conference from Selma's mayor and comments from King but no narration from a reporter. Go to nwsdy.li/mlkselma to view it. There are also numerous videos of movie stars and sports figures in moments you may never have seen. A good example is an unedited news conference with a bellicose Cassius Clay after he defeated Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight title in 1964 (nwsdy.li/clayliston).
For a trip back in time, there is a silent clip from 1912 involving the Titanic disaster with images of the ship before its doomed voyage (nwsdy.li/titanic). "As far as we are aware, this is the only genuine footage of the Titanic," Lindsey says. Another clip that will stir more recent memories is the 1964 arrival of The Beatles in New York and the group's raucous news conference at Kennedy Airport (nwsdy.li/beatlesny).
Long Island is represented in both the AP and Movietone archives. Notable clips include the "Miracle of Manorville," the rescue of a 7-year-old boy from a well in 1957 (nwsdy.li/boyinwell) and the Vanderbilt Cup car race at Roosevelt Raceway in 1937 (nwsdy.li/vanderbilt).