NARA Media Labs


VE Day: May 8, 1945 - The War Ends In Europe

“Throughout the world throngs of people hail the end of the war in Europe.  It is five years and more since Hitler marched into Poland. Years full of suffering, and death, and sacrifice. Now the war against Germany is won.”

Excerpted from “The War Ends in Europe
Motion Picture Films from “United News” Newsreels, 1942 - 1945

Why are these dogs are excited?  Tomorrow is the 150th Anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act!

Stay tuned for more #Yosemite150 posts!

Excerpted from the educational film “Yosemite Valley" from the Ford Historical Film Collection and recently digitally remastered from finegrain intermediates by our colleagues in the Motion Picture Preservation Lab.  Watch the complete film on the National Archives Youtube Channel:

Be sure to check Yosemite National Park’s Pet Regulations before bringing your dogs to the park!


This animation from Moonwalk One shows all the stages of the Apollo 11 mission, which launched 45 years ago on July 16, 1969.  As designed, the only component to return to Earth was the Command Module Columbia.

Moonwalk One, ca. 1970

From the series: Headquarters’ Films Relating to Aeronautics, 1962 - 1981. Records of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1903 - 2006

via Media Matters » Stepping Stones to the Moon

In Vermont, even dogs get excited for the Bookwagon!

Happy National Bookmobile Day!

From “The Day the Books Went Blank”, a 1961 educational film intended to show the importance of maintaining quality libraries, from The Library Extension Agencies of the six New England States.

Raising the Flag over Iwo Jima

Days into the Battle of Iwo Jima, the commanding peak of Mount Suribachi was captured on February 23, 1945.  In what would become of the most iconic images from World War II, five U.S. Marines, Harlon Block, Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, Michael Strank, and U.S. Navy Corpsman John Bradley, raised this flag, replacing a smaller flag.

Marines raise flag over Iwo Jima [Etc.], 1945
Motion Picture Films from “United News” Newsreels, 1942 - 1945

Beginning seventy years ago on February 19, 1945, the Battle of Iwo Jima lasted for over a month, as U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy forces invaded the volcanic island to dislodge its Japanese defenders.

More on the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima →

The War Ends in Europe

The massive swastika atop the Nazi party stadium in Nuremberg is blown up in dramatic fashion by advancing U.S. troops, ca. April 25, 1945, in the final days of the World War II in Europe.  Less than 2 weeks later, German forces surrendered unconditionally to the Allies on May 7, 1945.

Excerpted from “The War Ends in Europe
Motion Picture Films from “United News” Newsreels, 1942 - 1945


“The Day the Books Went Blank”

What happens if a library is not used, the collection not maintained, and the books not read?  Would the pages go blank?  That’s the outcome dramatized in “The Day the Books Went Blank”, a 1961 educational film intended to show the importance of maintaining quality libraries, from The Library Extension Agencies of the six New England States.

Remember your local library for Library Week (and every week)!

The theme of this year's National Library Week is “Lives Change.”  How has a library, or librarian, changed your life?

The classic television series The Twilight Zone premiered 55 years ago on October 2, 1959.

Here its host and creator, Rod Serling, riffs on his iconic role, narrating a Fire Safety PSA:

Excerpted from: Smokey Bear TV Spot, CARELESS KILLERS.
From the Series : Public Information and Training Motion Picture and Television Productions. Records of the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture, 1794 - ca. 2003

Only you can prevent forest fires—in the Twilight Zone…


“Scott Allen…skates right into the heart of the crowd as he captures a bronze medal for Uncle Sam; only fourteen years old…”

From:  Universal Newsreel Volume 37, Issue 12, 02/10/1964

via Media Matters » This Week in Universal News: The Beatles Come to America

50 years ago at the 1964 Innsbruck Winter Games, 14 year old figure skater Scott Allen wins the bronze medal for the United States in Men’s Figure Skating, becoming the youngest Olympic medalist in an individual Winter event.


Cracking the Glass Ceiling: Margaret Chase Smith and Shirley Chisholm

(via The Unwritten Record )

In this week of firsts, we consider the women who first ran for major party nominations in the United States: Margaret Chase Smith and Shirley Chisholm.

Margaret Chase Smith

Margaret Chase Smith won her first seat in the House of Representatives in a special election after her husband, Clyde Smith, died in 1940. One week later, she was already fighting to serve as more than a placeholder when she went up against four male rivals for the primary nomination to retain her seat. She won that battle, and served four terms in the House. Smith moved on to the Senate in 1949 as the first woman elected to both houses of Congress. At that time, Smith was the only woman in the Senate. Although other women were appointed or elected to fill vacancies resulting from deaths, it was another decade before another woman was elected to the Senate and served a full term.

“Senator Margaret Chase Smith” Local Identifier: 306-PS-50-2756 (NAID: 6802716)

As a senator, Smith quickly claimed the national spotlight when she publicly condemned McCarthyism on June 1, 1950. In her “Declaration of Conscience” speech, Smith decried the baseless accusations that were being lobbed about the Senate and defended “basic principles of Americanism” such as “the right to criticize” and “the right to hold unpopular beliefs.” Smith also disparaged the Truman administration and called instead for unity in issues of national security. The speech led many to speculate that she could be a vice-presidential candidate.

A day in the life of Senator Margaret Chase Smith as she considered whether to run for president.

When Margaret Chase Smith decided to run for president in 1964, it was with apparent reluctance. Her principles dictated that she not miss time on the job as a senator, nor would she accept donations for her campaign. In addition, she planned to staff her campaign with only volunteers and would not run ads on television or radio. Clearly this was not a winning strategy, and so Smith’s run for president was largely symbolic. Despite that, Smith won nearly thirty percent of the vote in Illinois, one of two states where she actively campaigned. She also won votes in Massachusetts, Oregon, and Texas, where she had no campaign presence. At the national convention in July, Smith became the first woman to have her name put forth for the nomination of a major party, and garnered the votes of 26 delegates.

The lead story in this Universal newsreel shows Senator Smith announcing her run for president at the Women’s National Press Club on January 27, 1964.

Barry Goldwater ultimately won the Republican nomination in 1964, and was defeated by Lyndon Baines Johnson in a landslide. Margaret Chase Smith continued to serve in the Senate until her defeat in the 1972 election. In total, Smith served more than 32 years in Congress.

Shirley Chisholm

Before being elected to the New York State legislature in 1964 (only the second African-American woman to serve in that body), Shirley Chisholm spent nearly two decades in early childhood education. That experience drove much of her political career as she fought for the creation of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), federal funds to support childcare, and defending the national school lunch program from a veto by President Gerald Ford.

Shirley Chisholm, shortly after her election to Congress in 1968. Local Identifier: 306-PSC-68-3539 (NAID: 7452354)

In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first African-American woman elected to the House of Representatives. Chisholm was controversial from the start; in her first speech on the floor, she spoke against the war in Vietnam and vowed that she would not vote to approve military funding.

Just as Margaret Chase Smith’s political career was coming to an end, Shirley Chisholm launched her own historic run for the White House. Chisholm was the first black woman to run for the Democratic nomination. Her campaign was divisive, as prominent feminists and black activists backed the seemingly more-electable George McGovern over Chisholm. Chisholm frequently said that she faced more discrimination for her sex than for the color of her skin. Still, Shirley Chisholm’s name appeared on the primary ballots of twelve states and she won ten percent of the delegates at the national convention.

In this clip, from a longer film called Accomplished Women (1974), Shirley Chisholm states that she would be surprised if there were not a woman president within 25 years.

George McGovern won the Democratic nomination and was defeated by Richard Nixon. Shirley Chisholm served seven terms in the House of Representatives before retiring to private life.

For more records featuring Shirley Chisholm, see “Unbought and Unbossed: Shirley Chisholm and the 1972 Presidential Run,” from Rediscovering Black History.

via Cracking the Glass Ceiling: Margaret Chase Smith and Shirley Chisholm | The Unwritten Record

It’s National Library Week!

Remember being this excited to check out a book? (Maybe you still are.)

From “The Day the Books Went Blank”, a 1961 educational film intended to show the importance of maintaining quality libraries, from The Library Extension Agencies of the six New England States.

The theme of this year’s National Library Week is “Lives Change.”  How has a library, or librarian, changed your life?


Rare color scenes from the Liberation of Paris, August 25, 1944, including an intact Eiffel Tower flying the French Tricolour, General Charles De Gaulle marching down the Champs Elysees, and Allied troops marching in front of the Arc de Triomphe.

Excerpted from: D-Day to Germany, 1944

From the series: Motion Picture Films Relating to the Invasion of Normandy (D-Day) and Commemorative Visits After the War, compiled 1944 - 1969Collection LIEB: Jack Lieb Collection, 1944 - 1969

Taken by newsreel cameraman Jack Lieb, this color home movie was donated by the Lieb family to the National Archives in 1984. You’ll see World War II from a perspective different than the official military film or commercial newsreel. With his personal footage, Lieb takes the viewer through the preparations in England, where he spent time with war correspondents Ernie PyleJack Thompson, and Larry LaSueur, to the liberation of Paris and finally into Germany. Along the way, Lieb captured his experience on 16mm Kodachrome, filming everyday people in France and the occasional celebrity, such as Edward G. Robinson or Ernest Hemingway

Via The Unwritten Record » A Newsreel Cameraman’s View of D-Day


Babe Ruth’s Major League Baseball Debut, 100 Years Ago

George Herman “Babe” Ruth made his major league debut with the Boston Red Sox one hundred years ago on July 11, 1914.  Originally signed as a pitcher, Ruth quickly established a reputation for hitting, breaking the single season home run record by 1919.  Ruth played with the Red Sox for 5 years until his contract was sold to the New York Yankees in 1919 (and triggering the now-reversed “Curse of the Bambino” and denying Boston another World Series title for 86 years).

Ruth is seen in this unidentified newsreel excerpt, circa 1919. Based on the clues in the title frame, our best guess is this was the September 8, 1919 Red Sox-Yankees game at the New York Polo Grounds, when Ruth hit his 26th home run of the season.  

(This footage is part of a documentary film collection donated to the National Archives by CBS in 1967)

#DCFashionWeek Opens Tonight at usnatarchives! Don’t forget that Perfect Hat!


In New York, creations of the country’s foremost milliners for the November to January season are previewed. Ranging from chic miniature pillboxes to resplendent toques and turbans, the mood is appropriately festive.

(via The Unwritten Record » This Week in Universal News: Winter Hat Fashions for 1956.)

Follow usnatarchives for more fab DC Fashion Week features, including:


The Apollo 11 Moon Landing was televised worldwide and watched by 500-600 million, becoming a major cultural touchstone of the 1960s. Crowds from across the globe were mesmerized by the event, as shown in this clips from the film “Moonwalk One,” recently digitized by our colleagues in the National Archives’ Media Preservation Lab.

Moonwalk One, ca. 1970

From the series: Headquarters’ Films Relating to Aeronautics, 1962 - 1981. Records of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1903 - 2006

via Media Matters » Stepping Stones to the Moon

Lou Gehrig, the “Luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

In 1939, the Fourth of July coincided with Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium.  A day usually reserved for parades and fireworks was transformed into one of the most solemn, heart-wrenching, and inspiring moments in the history of sports. It was here, before 62,000 fans, that Gehrig proclaimed he was the “Luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

After a few games into the 1939 season, Gehrig’s performance had noticeably declined. On May 2, Gehrig took himself out of the lineup for the first time in 2,130 consecutive games. Unbeknownst to him, he would never play again.  

Soon after Gehrig’s streak came to an end, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease he is synonymous with to this day.  After hearing the news, the Yankee clubhouse made arrangements to honor their longtime all-star.

On July 4, 1939, the Yankees played a double header against the Washington Senators. Between the two games, players, coaches, and other notable figures came out to shower Gehrig with gifts and kind words.  The Yankees also began a new baseball tradition as they retired Gehrig’s number 4 uniform.

Gehrig almost did not speak.  As the ceremony came to an end and the microphones were being hauled away, the “Iron Horse” decided to say a few words. As Gehrig fought away tears, he made one of the most iconic speeches of all time. 

It seems appropriate that Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day fell on Independence Day. In his famous Declaration, Thomas Jefferson ascribed that “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Despite his grim diagnosis and tragic decline, Gehrig embraced Jefferson’s unalienable rights. As he famously said, “I may have gotten a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for.”

Watch the newsreel on the National Archives YouTube Channel, and read more about Gehrig’s iconic speech via Media Matters » “An Awful Lot to Live For”: Lou Gehrig’s Final Season in the News

Universal News Volume 11, Release 786, Story #5, July 5, 1939

Remembering the Space Shuttle Challenger: The Teacher in Space Project:

Thirty years ago on January 28, 1986, seven astronauts–including teacher Christa McAuliffe–lost their lives after the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded during liftoff.

The inclusion of a teacher, who would become the first private citizen in space, made the Space Shuttle Challenger mission especially exciting. This was the U.S. Government’s twenty-fifth space shuttle mission, twenty-four of which had been completed successfully.

In August 1984, President Reagan announced @nasa‘s new “Teacher in Space Project,” which was a part of NASA’s Space Flight Participant Program, an education and outreach initiative. The application process was demanding and lengthy.

Out of over 11,000 applications, state, territorial and agency review panels each selected two nominees. A total of 114 nominees then participated in June 1985 in a week-long conference on various aspects of space education in Washington, DC. Ten teachers were selected through a national review process to continue on to the next step.

306-PSF-85-2488c: Sharon Christa McAuliffe, a 36 year old mother of two was chosen from a field of some 10,000 applicants to be the first teacher in space. A Social Studies Instructor at Concord High School in New Hampshire, she flew aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in January 1986. Behind her, in the airplane, are some of the 10 finalists who joined her in testing for the assignment. The teacher-in-space program resulted from a campaign pledge made by President Ronald Reagan during the election campaign of 1984.

In July 1985, at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, the ten finalists participated in thorough medical examinations and briefings about space flights. A NASA evaluation committee made up of senior NASA officials conducted further interviews with each teacher. This committee then made recommendations to the NASA Administrator, who made the final selection of two teachers.

The primary participant was Sharon Christa McAuliffe, a social studies teacher from Concord High School in Concord, New Hampshire. Years earlier, McAuliffe had been excited about the Apollo moon landing program. In her astronaut application she wrote, “I watched the Space Age being born and I would like to participate.” The back-up was Barbara Morgan, a teacher from McCall-Donnelly Elementary School in McCall, Idaho.

Video footage documented McAuliffe and Morgan’s training at the Johnson Space Center. The Teacher in Space Project required that two classroom lessons be taught in space, and preparing the lesson plans also was documented. Finding aids for the records provide detailed descriptions of the film clips and are available in the Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Research Room at the National Archives in College Park, MD.

255 STS-13778 (Teacher Training: Meeting)

255-STS-113910 (Teacher Training: Space Station Briefing)

The seven-member crew of the Challenger Shuttle was surprisingly diverse. They were American men and women of Asian, African, and European ancestry from across the United States, including Hawaii.

Photographs available in the Still Picture Research Room include images of the individual crew members, the shuttle craft, the explosion during the launch on January 28, 1986, the recovery mission, and the members of The Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident. The National Archives expects to receive many more records from NASA in the near future.

255-CB-86-H-56: Space Shuttle Challenger atop Crawlex Transporter on its Way to Pad B, Launch Complex 39, at the Kennedy Space Center.

Click through the slideshow for more information about the photographs.

While the Teacher in Space Project ended following the Challenger Shuttle accident, NASA’s work with teachers has continued through its Educator Astronaut Project. The main difference is that teachers selected for the Educator Astronaut Project are required to leave their teaching careers and are trained to serve as part of NASA’s Astronaut corps. With their classroom experience, these educator astronauts explore new ways to connect space programs with classrooms.

On August 8, 2007, Barbara Morgan, who was the backup teacher for the Challenger Shuttle mission, became NASA’s first Educator Astronaut. She was assigned to the crew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The Challenger crew’s spirit of adventure and love of exploration and learning clearly lives on.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) holds millions of photographs, motion pictures, audio-visuals, and cartographic records–special media–created by federal government agencies. The majority of the special media are preserved and made available at Archives II, the National Archives facility in College Park, Maryland. Some of these holdings are also available online at

Federal government agencies send their permanently valuable records to NARA after an agreed-upon time so they may be preserved and made available to the public. Special media records related to the Space Shuttle Challenger can be found in the records of:

For textual records related to the Space Shuttle Challenger, check and National Archives facilities in College Park, MD, Philadelphia, PA, Atlanta, GA and Fort Worth, TX, as well as the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Many thanks to volunteers Harry Kidd who scanned records for this post, and Jan Hodgesand Jim Tomney who described them for the online Catalog.  Much appreciation to Special Media staff Billy Wade, Carol Swain, and Audrey Amidon.

Additional Resources:

via The Challenger’s Teacher in Space Project: Photos and Video | The Unwritten Record


#DDAY70 D-Day -3:

“Some of the eleven thousand planes that opened the path through the so-called impregnable Atlantic wall. Between Le Havre and Cherbourg in Normandy the Allied lightning strikes. Communications necessary to the German defenses are blasted.”

From: Universal News Volume 17, Release 302, June 12, 1944


The “World of Tomorrow”

Seventy-five years ago the 1939 World’s Fair opened in Queens, New York City, NY, on April 30, 1939.  (Also the site of the 1964 World’s Fair)

FDR Opens N.Y. World’s Fair Before 600,000

New York, N.Y.—The “World of Tomorrow,” spectacular pageant of color and engineering skill, is jammed with excited and thrilled sightseers for its gala opening. Pres. Roosevelt, dedicating the $156,000,000 exhibit calls for world good-will and peace. The evening is climaxed with brilliant fireworks!

From: Universal Newsreel Volume 11, Release 767, Stories 2 & 4, May 1, 1939


#DDAY70 D-Day -1:

“Back in Britain, paratroopers marched out to their planes and embarked for the trip to Normandy.”

Excerpted from: “D-Day to D plus 3.”  From the series: Moving Images Relating to Military Activities, compiled 1947 - 1964. Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1985