National Archives Makes Universal Newsreels Available to Public through Amazon

The National Archives and Records Administration has partnered with Amazon to allow the public to purchase copies of “thousands of historic films” from the National Archives collection, including “documentaries, newsreels, instructional films, combat footage, research and development films, and many other formats that provide an unequalled visual history of the United States.”

The service is being offered as a joint effort between the National Archives and Records Administration and, formerly known as CustomFlix, the on-demand (meaning it’s created per-piece as it’s ordered) fulfillment arm of Amazon.

First up – and available right now through Amazon – are a series of Universal Newsreels, from as early as 1929, through 1967. According to the National Archives and Records Administration, the Newsreels cover “worldwide events in politics, entertainment, fashion, sports and technology. Historic moments in world history, such as the death of FDR, the end of WWII, the famous 1960 Nixon-Kennedy debate and the royal wedding of Princess Margaret, are all chronicled.”

“Thousands of public domain films and other U.S. Defense Department and U.S. Information Agency titles from the National Archives motion picture holdings will also become available in the near future,” says the agency.

Explains Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States (now there’s an interesting title), “While the public can come to our College Park, MD research room to view films and even copy them at no charge, this new program will make our holdings much more accessible to millions of people who cannot travel to the Washington, DC area.

“The National Archives and Records Administration houses an amazing collection of motion picture titles that historically have been hard for the general public to access. Our DVD on Demand service will make these titles readily available for purchase on to be enjoyed by history buffs today, as well as for future generations to come,” elaborated the managing director of the CustomFlix service, Dana LoPiccolo-Giles.

Among the newsreel DVDs already available are:

National Archives United News Release 150-154 (1945): 1. FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, 1945. A. Chief Justice Stone swears in Pres. Truman. Part 2 shows family scenes in Pres. Roosevelt’s early years; the 1932 Democratic convention; the 1933 inaugural address; the 1941 signing of the Atlantic Charter off Newfoundland; F.D.R. at Casablanca, Cairo, and Teheran in 1943; the 1945 inaugural address; and F.D.R. at Yalta in 1945. Other personages: Joseph Stalin, Churchill, Molotov, Chiang Kai-shek, Gen. Marshall, Adm. King, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Truman. 2. FUNERAL OF PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT [ETC.], 1945. A. President Roosevelt’s body is placed on a special train in Georgia. The train is met in Washington, D.C., by Vice Pres. Truman and Henry Wallace. The body is carried by caisson to the White House and reposes there in state. Funeral ceremonies are held at Hyde Park, New York. B. Harry S. Truman attends the 1944 Democratic convention with his daughter, and, as President, receives Lord Halifax, Anthony Eden, Sec. of State Stettinius, Gen. Marshall, Adm. King, Sec. of War Stimson, and James Byrnes at the White House. Also shows Eleanor Roosevelt.U.S. 3. CONTINUES LIBERATION OF PHILIPPINES [ETC.], 1945. A. artillery units blast Japanese troops from the hills of Luzon. B. President Truman and Sec. of State Stettinius greet San Francisco Conference delegates at the White House. C. Chinese workers move gasoline drums to the front lines. D. U.S. troops liberate Russians from German prison camps. Gens. Patton and Bradley meet in Munich. Other personages: Jan Christian Smuts, Anthony Eden, Molotov, Georges Bidault, T.V. Soong. 4. UNITED NATIONS OPEN CONFERENCE AT SAN FRANCISCO [ETC.], 1945. A. President Truman speaks to the U.N. from Washington, D.C. Personages at San Francisco: Sec. of State Stettinius, Jan Christian Smuts, Molotov, Lord Halifax, Andrei Gromyko. B. Mussolini lies dead in Italy. Shows Mussolini and Hitler in 1943. C. Gens. Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley inspect atrocity scenes in German prison camps. 5. SAN FRANCISCO CONFERENCE MOVES AHEAD [ETC.], 1945. A. Georges Bidault speaks to delegates at the U.N. conference. Sec. of State Stettinius presides. B. New York City celebrates VE Day. President Truman announces the German surrender. U.S. and Russian troops meet at the Elbe. German troops in Italy surrender. U.S. troops occupy Nuremberg. C. artillery and tanks blast Japanese positions on Okinawa. Kamikaze planes attack U.S. aircraft carriers.

National Archives United News Release 1051-1054 (1945): 1. GERMANY IS BEATEN, 1945. Reviews events in the rise and fall of Germany, 1939-1945. A. Shows Germans in Denmark, Belgium, Luxemburg, Holland, and France. French citizens leave their cities and children are evacuated from London and Paris. Rubble is cleared and factories continue to produce in Britain after English planes down German bombers. B. Shows Russian defense and offense against Germany. U.S. troops fight in the Pacific and in Europe, bombing and strafing the enemy. Shows the Yalta Conference, celebrations by liberated countries, and the effect of war on German civilians and prisoners. Includes scenes of London, Moscow, Washington, D.C. Personages: Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eisenhower, and Hitler. 2. FREE VOTE FOR FRANCE [ETC.], 1945. A. France holds its first free municipal elections since liberation. B. Occupation forces in Heidelberg print a newspaper and distribute it to eager citizens. C. A French ship is loaded with grain and potatoes in Canada. Airplanes drop food to the Dutch in a UN operation. D. German surrenders are received by Gen. Montgomery from Adm. Friedeburg and by Gen. Walter B. Smith from Gen. Jodl. Gen. Eisenhower speaks. 3. VICTORY ROUND-UP, 1945. Gens. Zhukov, Spaatz, and Tedder receive Gen. Keitel’s surrender at Berlin. Shows Munich scenes. German Gens. Goring, Kesselring, and von Runstedt are captured. Gen. E.H. Brooks receives Germany’s surrender in Austria. Adm. Doenitz is captured. British sailors board German U-boats at Antwerp. Citizens of Brussels and Paris celebrate in the streets Gen. de Gaulle visits the Arc de Triomphe. Gen. Montgomery receives the German surrender at Lundberg. The British fleet enters Copenhagen harbor. Gen. Montgomery and King Christian X ride through the streets of Copenhagen. 4. NORWAY FREED [ETC.], 1945. A. Norwegian and British officials receive the German surrender at Oslo. B. Shows destruction to French and German ports caused by allied air attacks. French soldiers return home and citizens rejoice. Shows German prisoners. C. Pipe lines are manufactured and laid in the English Channel and through France to Ghent, Belgium. Shows pumping stations in England.


National Archives Universal Newsreels Vol. 33 Release 25-32 (1960): Mar 24- DEGAULLE-PARIS GREET MR. K.: Khrushchev arrives in Paris for Pre-Summit talks with Premier DeGaulle; SOUTH AFRICAN CLASH: protestors clash with police; WEEPING MADONNA ENSHRINED: Icon of the Virgin is pronounced an authentic spiritual manifestation; SNOW QUEEN’S HOMECOMING: Sandra Dee is feted by her hometown; INNER-CITY GOLDEN GLOVES: featuring Lightweight Vince Shomo and Heavyweight Cassius Clay. Mar 28- WORLD LEADERS ON THE MOVE: West German Chancellor Adenauer visits Tokyo and Premier Kishi; Khrushchev makes a pilgrimage to the apartment where Lenin lived in exile before the Russian Revolution; GRAND NATIONAL WON BY FAVORITE, MERRYMAN II; 25 YEARS AGO: reflection on monumental events. Mar 31- The United Nations Security Council places South Africa’s apartheid crisis on its agenda; FLOODS IN BRAZIL AND MID-WEST UNITED STATES; WHISKEY WAREHOUSE BURNS; ALCOHOL-O-MAT SAFETY: German gadgeteers show a device to end drunken driving; DE SOTO FESTIVAL: top golfers competing with Sam Snead taking the top prize. Apr 4- WEATHER-EYE SATELLITE IN ORBIT: Tiros, the first weather satellite, is placed into orbit from Cape Canaveral; FRENCH TEST 2ND A-BOMB; POPE ELEVATES NEW CARDINALS; BALLY ACHE WINS FLORIDA DERBY, edging Venetian Way. Apr 7- BRITAIN’S ROYAL RECEPTION FOR De GAULLE; 1960’S PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES featuring Democrat front-runners Hurbert Humphrey and John Kennedy and Republican Vice-President Nixon; IKE GREETS COLUMBIA’S PRESIDENT; ACADEMY AWARDS: Highlights of Hollywood’s big night. Apr 11- SOUTH AFRICA’S PREMIER SHOT: Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd is shot twice, before the camera; KOREAN ELECTION RIOTS: President Rhee’s election leads to riot; PATRICK HENRY, the newest nuclear reactors powered vessels, is formally commissioned; ITALIAN FASHION PARADE: New styles for the season to come; CELTICS WIN N.B.A. CROWN; Arnold Palmer brings home his second Masters. Apr 14- SPACE BEACON SATELLITE: An experimental space “lighthouse” placed in orbit; PRINCE HIRO AT HOME: scenes of infant Prince Hiro with his parents; AMPHIBIOUS CAR SHOWN; MINI-MIDSHIPMEN BOXING: the peanut brigade turns out for fisticuffs; 25 YEARS AGO: reflection on events including German rearmament and Amelia Earhart. Apr 18- Thousands gather for the Easter message and blessing of Pope John XXIII; INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW: featuring new models and “dream cars”; SAUCER SUB EXPLORES DEEP; ICE-BREAKERS CLEAR ST. LAWRENCE; AQUA-KITE CHAMP; DOG SOCCER.

Check it out – this stuff is extraordinarily interesting and educational, and this is one great use of the Internet!

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One Reply to “National Archives Makes Universal Newsreels Available to Public through Amazon”

  1. What I’d like to know is who did the actual digitizing of the public domain sources and whether CustomFlix will be trying to assert any copyright or copy control on otherwise Public Domain materials.

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