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!

Oak Ridge Nuclear Lab footage from the Early 50’s

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Stock Footage

This footage, shot in the early 1950’s, was found in the National Archives under the Records of the Atomic Energy Commission. It shows the early work done at Oak Ridge, including scenes of testing “exposed” workers for radiation. My favorite scene, toward the end, shows a museum exhibit modeling the “Gaseous Diffusion” process that was used to collect and concentrate Uranium 238, the method used to accumulate enough material for the first Atomic Bombs. It looks a lot like the high tech equipment used each night to pick lottery winners!

I captured this video using a mirrorless digital camera directly from a 35mm film work print displayed on the flatbed film viewers available for use in the National Archives Research Room. It was captured at 23.976 frames per second, close to the native 24fps film frame rate, so no film “flicker”. Of course, much better quality is available from a high quality scanner using archival film elements, but this produces a perfectly serviceable “screener” for editorial purposes.