Associated Press and British Movietone are uploading more than a million minutes of footage to YouTube that documents the most momentous and historic events of the last 120 years. Two channels will feature more than 550,000 videos, including clips that capture first hand the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the effects of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and Tiananmen Square's "Tank Man."
AP has built up a staggering archive over its 120 year lifespan. Alwyn Lindsey, AP's director of international archive, said that the channels would stand as a visual encyclopedia of perhaps the most turbulent century in human history. "At AP we are always astonished at the sheer breadth of footage that we have access to, and the upload to YouTube means that, for the first time, the public can enjoy some of the oldest and most remarkable moments in history."
People who want to use the clips in their own videos will still need to license them through AP, but the agency says the trove of videos will stand and inspiration for filmmakers. While the archive is full of tragedies like the Hindenberg disaster, we can see that even before the internet, earlier generations shared our current affinity for cat videos. One clip from 1955 features a kitten spinning on a "radiogram" turntable, while another from 1946 — appropriately featured on British Movietone's "cute animals" playlist — is about "the world's most patient cat" and his puppy pal.