Even if you don’t have old home movies of your family history, there’s a way to discover a treasure trove of film footage showing your ancestor’s world. It’s the next best thing to a time machine.
Back in the early 1990s, when I was a film and video editor, I helped a local production company catalog and create a database of the video footage they’d shot over the years so they could offer stock footage as a product.
Being pre-Internet, we couldn’t just Google everything, so I was intrigued by the idea of researching stock film footage and archival film footage for producers. As I did my research, I discovered the Prelinger Archives – known for their collection of corny educational and sponsored films – think “Dating Dos and Don’ts,” good posture, and hygiene instruction from the 1950s.
The Prelinger Archives still exist. You can see and search the films at archive.org. (See direct link below.) Rick Prelinger, the founder, offers the footage on the site for all to use for free.
Home Movies, anyone?
Want more than mid-century dating tips? The Prelinger Archive also has a home movie collection. Rick is adding to the collection continually. I did some searches by location and discovered a 1955 film of a family vacation to Washington, D.C. and St. Augustine, Florida, complete with candid shots of kids and families.
I browsed more and found some amazing video of a hometown parade in Skagit County, Washington State shot in the 1930s.
So think about it. You may not find a video of your relative or ancestor specifically in the Prelinger Archives, but you may find footage showing where they lived, what people wore, and events and activities from their community – the next best thing to traveling back in a time machine, without all the uncomfortable side effects!
So, set aside a few minutes to explore the Prelinger Archives. I’d love to hear about (and see) what you find. Email me or better yet, share in our VideoGenealogy Facebook Group. If you haven’t joined yet, just click “Join” button on the group page. I’ll let you in and show you the secret handshake. Lots of friendly, genealogy enthused people hang out in the group and would love to see what you discover.
How cool would it be if you found some video of your ancestor’s hometown and you included it in your own video telling their story? Getting ideas?
Click here>> to get the Ancestor Story Video Starter Kit so you can bring your ancestor to life and get your family excited about their family history.
Enjoy your ride back in time!
Home movie: 098905: 1955 road trip to Washington, DC, Florida, and Mexico. Prelinger Archives Home Movies collection. Accessed September 18, 2018 at https://archive.org/details/098905
Home Movie: 10041: Parade near Mt, Vernon, Washington State. 1930s. Prelinger Archives Home Movies. Accessed September 18, 2018 at https://archive.org/details/prelingerhomemovies.