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This Just In! 80 Years of Newsreels Now Free To Watch on YouTube

British Pathe has put its entire collection of over 85,000 newsreels online for free, dating from 1896 to 1976.
British Pathe / YouTube

Before YouTube, before the Internet, before even TV, the way people got their news presented visually was through newsreels shown at movie theaters. Now British Pathe, the premier archive of these newsreels, has brought things full circle by putting its 80-year collection online for free.

A total of more than 85,000 films in all have been uploaded to YouTube, many of which were before now only available for a fee on the company's website. But now you can browse through them all, from 19th-century footage of the New York Fire Brigade to a 1958 interview with Elvis Presley.

Some clips have had new narration added for historical context, but many have their original breathless announcers and jazzy soundtracks.

The new YouTube channel is divided into several helpful playlists — footage from World War I and II is plentiful, as well as from other major tragic and historic events: the Hindenberg and Titanic disasters, the atomic strike on Hiroshima.

Not all the footage is grim.The Wright Brothers' first flight is there, and so is Arnold Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe in 1969. And judging from the "Ten Stone Baby" and dogs dressed in wedding outfits, our predilection for weird and cute footage isn't a recent development.

Only a small portion of the thousands of videos have been sorted so far, but you can browse the unfiltered catalog here.

via Open Culture