Posted on

A note to students

The FilmFileShop collection is made up of more than newsreels. If you imagine the different types of movies as part of a large tree, then the newsreels are part of a major “branch” called documentaries. Although the term “documentary” was not coined until 1926 (attributed to John Grierson), the first “movie goers” witnessed the seeds of the documentary. The titles provide the clues: “Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory in Lyon” and “Train Arriving at the Station” (both from 1895, by the Lumiere Brothers, France). The very earliest of films also offered scenes from faraway places and events of the day, such as the Coronation of Tsar Nicholas II, 1896, in Russia. The movie camera was capturing “eye witnessed,” live action events and scenes “on location.” Enthusiasm for exotic and novelty “actuality” footage fueled expeditions and adventures.

“Actuality footage” was part of the typical early movie viewing experience. The first movies were very short, some lasting less than a minute. As the technology improved and the language of film grew it became possible to weave the footage together to tell a story, describe a process, or get a point across.

What is a documentary?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences offers this description: “Documentary films are defined as those that deal with historical, social, scientific, or economic subjects, either photographed in actual occurrence or re-enacted, and where the emphasis is more on factual content than on entertainment.” P. 317 Madsen, The Impact of Film. Many of the titles in the FilmFileShop collection fit under the broad documentary umbrella. There are training films, including selections from World War II and from the NASA Space Program (Jungle Survival Training, for example). There is edited and unedited eyewitness war footage taken by Armed Forces cameramen of the two World Wars, Korea, and Viet Nam. There are titles covering major social and political events of the last century. This film and video material is categorized as “archival” footage. Archival footage is described as motion images and sound that is important to preserve. As you probably know, an institution that protects important documents, including motion pictures, is called an archive. Footage from our collection will be added weekly.

What is a Newsreel? What can they tell us?

As you probably know, newsreels were shown in theaters in the days before television. There were even a few theaters devoted entirely to showing newsreels! Mostly the newsreels were shown as short subjects along with other short subjects and a feature film. The earliest newsreels (Pathe Weekly) shown in the United States were made and distributed by the Pathe Company starting in 1911. Pathe was an international, French company with branches in many countries. The last US newsreel was released in 1967 (Universal News series). In the “Silent Era,” title cards would identify the subject and sometimes comment on the footage. With the sound era, off camera narration and music could be more fully integrated with the moving picture. Typically ranging from five to ten minutes, newsreels presented the “stuff” of our modern day newscasts, internet newsfeeds, tweets, and postings.


Our collection currently features newsreels from the Universal News (200 UN) and United News series (208 UN) as well as moving image records created by the US armed services and many other US government agencies. The United News series was produced during World War II (1942 – 1945) by the Office of War Information (OWI). This material is in the public domain and therefore can be used in your own projects and research, generally without worry about copyright. Please note that proper citation is important. The “provenance” for these clips can be verified, if you have questions, through the National Archives website. In some cases, celebrities and copyrighted music may require that you seek additional permissions for public use.

Newsreels offer us insights into the life, thoughts, events, and material goods of the past. We can see what cars, towns, cities, clothes, celebrities, politicians looked like at different times and places. If we dig a little deeper we can see patterns of opinion and bias. And particularly during war times we can study propaganda and persuasion.

Posted on

What sets us apart?

Titles not clips.

Many stock footage houses on the internet offer material that ranges from historic to contemporary footage. Depending on the content, the buyer can expect to pay an average of $120 for a clip lasting 15 seconds to 2 minutes. Here at FilmFileShop, you can pay $105 for an entire story in HD ProRes422 that may be 10 minutes in length! Watch the entire title in the store to view the content that you will receive.

Our previews are 640 x 360 to make study easy, even on your mobile devices. What you will receive when you purchase are 1920 x 1080 HD ProRes422 files derived from our master 10-bit uncompressed high definition source files.

Source matters

Some “clip sellers” do not divulge a video file’s background and contextual information. If you just need 15 seconds’ worth of adorable puppy, origin may not be of much interest to you. But what if you are researching “dogs in war” for a documentary or history project? You need the whole enchilada for context and you need to know all the information that you can dig up: title, producer, date, location, etc. Our titles come with their provenance, to the extent possible. For our National Archives (NARA) titles, we identify each title using the NARA nomenclature.  If you are a history buff, you will appreciate knowing how each title fits into the larger scope of material.
See our Deciphering the NARA code.

Format source also matters in the high definition world. All of our high definition files were transferred in high definition directly to file from motion picture film. We do not provide up-converted material from standard definition. No secret proprietary up-conversion process exists to match the high definition resolution of a 10-bit uncompressed 1920 x 1080 file!

Posted on

How to order

Like any online store, you locate items that interest you and place them in the cart. When you are ready to purchase, you have the option to register first or buy your files as a guest.

We’ve set the cart up so you can only purchase one clip of each item. That’s all you need.

And if you are an international client needing delivery in PAL, you can only purchase that once per order also.

Secure payment process: your purchase happens through PayPal. You have the option to pay with your credit card or PayPal account.

You will be sent back to FilmFileShop to view your order confirmation.

You will receive an email with the secure log in details from our ShareFile service.  Please be patient. Your files will be uploaded to our service once we receive your order. You will be given complete instructions and ample time to download.

Please remember that all sales are final. There can be no refunds, so please confirm your order before hitting that final button.


Posted on

Deciphering the NARA code

NARA Archival material is categorized by record groups and series. Take a glance at the table below and you will see that knowing some basic “identifiers” can accelerate your research. Here is a partial list containing the most popular record groups. We hope this helps you see the depth of our “library.”

Here’s a quick example of the sequence which goes from broad to specific.

208 UN 1
208 = Record Group
UN = Series
1 = the unique identifier number within this Record Group and Series

Record GroupDescription
16 PUS Dept. of Agriculture Public Information and Training
18 ATCAir Transport Command of the Army Air Forces
18 CCombat Film Report - US Army Air Forces
18 CSUS War Department Army Air Forces
18 CWDCombat Weekly digest (Army Air Forces)
18 SFPCombat Subjects
26Moving Images Relating to Coast Guard Activities
28Post Office Department
33Department of Agriculture
46Records of the US Senate
47Records of the Social Security Administration
48Department of Interior/National Park Service, etc
56US Department of the Treasury
57US Department of the Interior: Geological Survey
59General Record
65Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
70US Bureau of Mines Public Information
77Army Corps of Engineers
80 MCUS Dept of Navy - Commercial Works
80 MNUS Navy Motion Picture Film Productions
85Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service
87Records of the US Secret Service
90US Public Health Service
95Forest Service Public Announcements
96US Department of Agriculture - Farm Security Administration
102Department of Labor. Children's Bureau
107Secretary of War Records
111 ADCUS Army World War II training & combat films
111 CBCombat Bulletin, US Army
111 CRCampaign Report, US Army
111 EFEducational Films of US Army
111 FBFilm Bulletins, US Army
111 HDepartment of Army Historical Films
111 LCUS Army Library Copy Collection
111 MUS Army World War II Miscellaneous
111 OFUS Army Orientation Films
111 SFPStaff Film Reports, US Army
111 SMWorld War II Army-Navy Screen Magazine
111 TFTraining Films, US Army
111 TVBig Picture Television Program, US Army
111 WFWar Film, US Army
115Department of the Interior; Bureau of Reclamation
127Records of US Marine Corps - Additional
127 RUS Marine Corps Records
171Office of Emergency Management: Civilian Defense
174Department of Labor
175US Military Chemical and Biological Warfare Program
200.Gift Record Group
200 CBS-WWICBS Collection, rights conferred to US Govt in 1986
200 FCFord Motor Company
200 HFHarmon Foundation Collection
200 LWLongines Wittnauer 1950s Television Interview Series
200 MTTMarch of Times Outtakes
200 PN Paramount News-fully restricted. No reproduction without prior permission
200 UN Universal Newsreels
207US Department of Housing and Urban Development
208Office of War Info: Propaganda
208 UNUnited News
226Office of Strategic Services
238World War II War Crimes Records
242Seized Foreign Property - Emergency Management
242 GPNGerman Portuguese News
242 MIDMilitary Intelligence Div. Seized Foreign Records
255 HQNASA Headquarters Series- Aeronautics
255 SNational Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
263Intelligence and International Relations
266Securities and Exchange Commission Records
286US Office of International Development
306US Information Agency (USIA) Records
330 DVICMilitary Activities Around the World; Office of the Secretary of Defense
342 APCArmy Pictorial Center Motion Picture Films
342 FCUS Air Force Film Clips
342 NRUS Air Force News Releases
342 SFPUS Air Force Special Film Projects
342 TFUS Air Force Training Film Series
342 USAFRecords of United States Air Force Commands
428 MN US Dept of Navy - General Edited Works
428 NPCDepartment of the Navy
434Department of Energy