A Holiday Playlist, To: You, From: The Unwritten Record

‘Tis the season for holiday films on repeat. Have you grown tired of the leg lamp? Soured on that aloof beagle? Wearied of the mean one with termites in his smile? Are you, gentle reader, bored of Bedford Falls?

Fear not, for the National Archives has holiday films that entertain and inform beyond the wildest dreams of Tinseltown! We have cultivated this playlist from the holdings of our very own RDSM as well as other divisions of NARA. It includes three titles previously unseen on this blog and three beloved yuletide traditions from the days of yore. So gather ’round the family to laugh and cry as you watch the finest holiday offerings of the NARA YouTube channel.


One of our previous number top hits, Claus: NORAD Tracks Santa, leads the way. It offers compelling radar evidence for the supersonic flight of St. Nick and his eight jet reindeer. Follow Santa with NORAD this year at noradsanta.org.

NORAD weren’t fortunate enough to get any images of the Big Man himself, but the Ford Collection contains fascinating silent footage from 1926 depicting Santa at work in a snowy forest, making toys and interacting with children.

Universal News Volume 30, Release 90, November 4, 1957 starts on a frosty note with a segment on avalanche safety before picturing a visit by Santa on a “Sputnik.” Of course, we know from the previous two films that Santa uses reindeer technology rather than a flying saucer. Bonus holiday tradition in the later segments: football.

Scottish terrier Barney Bush became known for his holiday films. His 2006 Holiday Extravaganza features a marine brass quintet and cameo appearances by Dolly Parton and Elmo. Truly, the duties of a First Dog are a glorious burden.

Forestry is a vital national interest, and the Forest Service takes the relatively small and useless conifers we call Christmas trees as seriously as they do the mighty trees that produce our wood and paper. Learn about these evergreens in The Cultured Christmas Tree, previously featured alongside tree trivia.

And finally, a 2014 program at the National Archives’ William G. McGowan Theater about Holidays at the White House, hosted by Tim Gunn. You doubtless want to see Mr. T visit Nancy Reagan as Santa Claus. It’s at 1:04:48. Mrs. R recruited Mr. T because of his previous anti-drug appearances.

Have a fun and safe holiday and be sure to decorate your battleship real nice!

The battleship USS IOWA (BB-61), is moored at Pier 11, is decorated with Christmas lights.