Lesser-Known and “Hidden” Newsreels of NARA

You may be familiar with some of the big series of newsreels we hold here at NARA: March of Time, Universal, United News, and War Pictorial News. Recently, as part of an online course about newsreels, I took a deep dive into other newsreels domestic and foreign, which are frequently interfiled in other series. NARA holds a staggering variety of newsreel films seized, collected, or produced by agencies across the United States government. Here are some of the diamonds I found in the rough of eclectic, sometimes under-described newsreels.

One particularly satisfying example is 428-NPC-12736. As I found it, the catalog entry contained a general note indicating that it is an episode of Universal Newsreel. Using the subject and name index, surely I could identify what release this is. Lo and behold, it is release 18-410 – a release we don’t hold in the Universal Newsreel collection! Perhaps it was one of the episodes lost in the 1978 nitrate fire. The item description is in the process of being updated to include this new information.

428-NPC-12736, https://catalog.archives.gov/id/79398

The recent project of tagging and transcribing 306-LSS also revealed several hidden newsreels. While the “Welt im Film” series has no digital copies available, you can actually find five episodes of this postwar newsreel in 306-LSS. USIA used these newsreels as stock footage for their own productions, which is why the titles are formatted as “LIBRARY STOCK SHOT #”, but staff added tags and transcriptions reflecting the contents of these files. Check out releases 245, 247, and 250, and two with unknown release numbers. (Last film is missing narration.)

Research into a variety of foreign-language newsreels uncovered titles for items previously described in imprecise terms such as “Italian Newsreel.” A number of catalog updates are in the process of being made. The unnamed Italian newsreel is actually an episode of “Giornale di Guerra.” An unidentified Japanese newsreel turned out to be “Nihon Nyūsu.”

In investigating these newsreels, I learned that content and language do not necessarily indicate who created a newsreel and for what purpose. One example of Japanese propaganda created by Nippon EIGA was released in France as “Actualités du Monde.” Vichy and Free France each produced their own newsreels. “France Actualités” celebrates Vichy France and Marshal Petain. The Free France counterpart began in summer, 1944 as “Journal de la Résistance.” Although not digitized, we have an episode of this as well. The French National Audiovisual Institute provides a clear explanation of French newsreels.

If you find any untitled newsreels in the catalog, or would like to transcribe newsreel title cards, you can add tags and transcriptions to the catalog. Learn how to become a citizen archivist at https://www.archives.gov/citizen-archivist/registerandgetstarted.

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