What films and videos can be viewed online?
Although the majority of the films and videos in our moving mage collection can only be viewed on-site in the Moving Image Research Center at the Library of Congress, we have a number of online exhibits with content that can be streamed and sometimes downloaded. These exhibits are part of the Library of Congress Digital Collections.
National Screening Room
The National Screening Room showcases the riches of the Library’s vast moving image collection, designed to make otherwise unavailable movies, both copyrighted and in the public domain, freely accessible to the viewers worldwide. The goal of this digital collection is to present to the widest audience possible movies from the Library's extensive holdings, offering a broad range of historical and cultural documents as a contribution to education and lifelong learning.
Selections from the National Film Registry
Summary: The National Film Registry is a list of movies deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" that are earmarked for preservation by the Library of Congress. This digital collection presents a variety of Registry titles including the World War II documentary Memphis Belle (1944), Master Hands (1936), a beautiful mechanical ballet shot on a General Motors automotive assembly line, and a plea for racial tolerance from Frank Sinatra in The House I Live In (1945).
America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures From 1894-1915
Summary: Work, school, and leisure activities in the United States from 1894 to 1915 are featured in this presentation of 150 motion pictures, 88 of which are digitized for the first time (62 are also available in other American Memory presentations). Highlights include films of the United States Postal Service from 1903, cattle breeding, fire fighters, ice manufacturing, logging, callisthenic and gymnastic exercises in schools, amusement parks, boxing, expositions, football, parades, swimming, and other sporting events.
American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment, 1870-1920
Summary: This collection illustrates the vibrant and diverse forms of popular entertainment, especially vaudeville that thrived from 1870-1920. Included are 334 English- and Yiddish-language playscripts, 146 theater playbills and programs, 61 motion pictures, 10 sound recordings and 143 photographs and 29 memorabilia items documenting the life and career of Harry Houdini. Groups of theater posters and additional sound recordings will be added to this anthology in the future.
The Life of a City: Early Films of New York, 1898-1906
Summary: This collection contains forty-five films of New York dating from 1898 to 1906 from the Paper Print Collection of the Library of Congress. Of these, twenty-five were made by the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, while the remaining twenty are Edison Company productions.
Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897-1916
Summary: This collection consists of twenty-six films of San Francisco from before and after the Great Earthquake and Fire, 1897-1916. Seventeen of the films depict San Francisco and its environs before the 1906 disaster.
Inside an American Factory: Films of the Westinghouse Works, 1904
Summary: The Westinghouse Works Collection contains 21 actuality films showing various views of Westinghouse companies. Most prominently featured are the Westinghouse Air Brake Company, the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, and the Westinghouse Machine Company.
The Last Days of a President: Films of McKinley and the Pan-American Exposition, 1901
Summary: The twenty-eight films of this collection are actuality motion pictures from the Paper Print Collection of the Library of Congress. They include footage of President William McKinley at his second inauguration; of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York; of President McKinley at the Pan-American Exposition; and of President McKinley's funeral.
Origins of American Animation
Summary: The development of early American animation is represented by this collection of 21 animated films and 2 fragments, which spans the years 1900 to 1921. The films include clay, puppet, and cut-out animation, as well as pen drawings. They point to a connection between newspaper comic strips and early animated films, as represented by Keeping Up With the Joneses, Krazy Kat, and The Katzenjammer Kids.
The Spanish-American War in Motion Pictures
Summary: This presentation features 68 motion pictures produced between 1898 and 1901 of the Spanish-American War and the subsequent Philippine Revolution. The Spanish-American War was the first U.S. war in which the motion picture camera played a role.
Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Times on Film
Summary: Theodore Roosevelt was the first U.S. president to have his career and life chronicled on a large scale by motion picture companies (even though his predecessors, Grover Cleveland and William McKinley, were the first to be filmed). This presentation features 104 films which record events in Roosevelt's life from the Spanish-American War in 1898 to his death in 1919; 8 of these films have previously appeared in other American Memory presentations
Inventing Entertainment: The Early Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies
Summary: This site features 341 motion pictures, 81 disc sound recordings, and other related materials, such as photographs and original magazine articles. Cylinder sound recordings will be added to this site in the near future. In addition, histories are given of Edison's involvement with motion pictures and sound recordings, as well as a special page focusing on the life of the great inventor. Prolific inventor Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) has had a profound impact on modern life. In his lifetime, the "Wizard of Menlo Park" patented 1,093 inventions, including the phonograph, the kinetograph (a motion picture camera), and the kinetoscope (a motion picture viewer). Edison managed to become not only a renowned inventor, but also a prominent manufacturer and businessman through the merchandising of his inventions. The collections in the Library of Congress's Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division contain an extraordinary range of the surviving products of Edison's entertainment inventions and industries.
We cannot provide subject research for stock footage or copying of most of the films and videos in our collection.
Additional Ways to Contact Us
Please send written correspondence to:
Moving Image Research Center
101 Independence Ave. SE
James Madison Building, LM 336
Washington, D.C. 20540-4690