Aftermath of the Battle of Aachen

This reel is taken from a work print, a film element intended for editing purposes, and shows evidence of its age and a hard life. The film is one of hundreds of thousands at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) that remain unavailable digitally. For this particular roll, all that exists in the National Archives Catalog is a scan of an Army Signal Corps shot card. I shot this film from a flatbed film viewer in the public research room using a mirror-less digital camera.

The footage, dating from October 1944, shows the destruction wrought on the city of Aachen after many days of air and artillery bombardment followed by house-to-house street fighting. Civilian refugees struggle with their handful of possessions in suitcases through devastated streets. Sadly, such scenes of urban devastation seem very relevant today.

Only a professional researcher can provide timely access to such unseen archival footage and stills, adding impact to your production or publication.

“Gods of War”

One of the “fringe benefits” being a professional researcher is the possibility of stumbling over fascinating images or footage while looking for something quite different. While looking for photos of a different war correspondent, I came across this image of ur-combat photojournalist Robert Capa and novelist and journalist Ernest Hemingway, following an armored advance in France in the summer of 1944. This image, shot by an Army Signal Corps photographer, is described in the National Archives Catalog, but no digital image was included with this record.

This is far from a rare pattern. The still photo collections at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) consists of millions of images shot by military or other government photographers, as well as a healthy complement of donated images. Right now, less than 10% of the special media content available at NARA are available on-line at all. Given the Agency’s budget constraints, it may be many years before more of this content is made available in a digital format. That means that professional archival media researchers are an important resource for clients looking to leverage rarely seen images and footage from these world class collections. Under Federal law, “Federal Works, or the work product of government employees or “work-for-hire” contractors, is not eligible for copyright protection. Professional researchers can help your production or publication shine, with PUBLIC DOMAIN special media material that won’t break your budget!

Happy Public Domain Day 2020!

Each year on New Years Day since 2019, previously copyrighted works fall out of copyright protection after 95 years! In honor of Public Domain Day 2020, please enjoy this copy of the western comedy short “The Cowboy Sheik”, featuring cowboy humorist Will Rogers, found in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, specifically in the records of the Central Intelligence Agency.

You might ask why the CIA was interested in this cowboy comedy, copyrighted in 1924, to which I can only answer “that information is available on a need-to-know basis!” The National Archives holds the records of U.S. Government agencies, which are often ineligible for copyright protection as “U.S. Government works”, but also contains copies of privately produced content, which retains the copyright of the creator(s), as in this case, at least until January 1st, 2020.

Don’t depend on your intern or production assistant to find the perfect footage or stills for your project. Hire a professional archival media researcher!

Feel the burn!

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General Leslie R. Groves, military chief of the Manhattan Project, examines a test tube of plutonium! This screenshot is from newsreel outtakes (originally on 35mm motion picture film) in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration.

This footage is not described in the National Archives catalog and isn’t locatable through Google. Don’t depend on an intern or production assistant to locate the footage that will add unique impact to your documentary film or other production. Consult a free-lance archival film research professional! hashtag#filmproduction hashtag#archivalresearch

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