Find Old Film Footage Online: YouTube and Google Video Search

Old film footage can make your family stories truly unforgettable–even for those relatives who seem to forget every fact you tell them about your genealogy! Follow these tips to find old film footage and video online.

find old film footage tips for finding video online

If a picture’s worth a thousand words when you share your family history, how much more do you think a video is worth?

A while back, we told the gripping story of Betty McIntosh, a Honolulu reporter-turned-World War II spy. What fun it was to research and share on the blog! The post has multimedia sources threaded throughout: an image of a young Betty from the CIA’s website, news articles, oral histories with more memories of Pearl Harbor, a YouTube video interview with Betty, and even a dramatic radio broadcast clip from the day of the attack, when the media was trying to reach the mainland with news of the attack.

We found all those sources via Google searching. And while we could go into great depth on how to find each of those kinds of sources (and I do, in resources such as my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox), in this article, I wanted to share some tips on finding old film footage online, using Betty as a case study. Think about how you might use these tips to look for old video or films related to your family history–and let me know what you find! I’d love to hear from you.

How to find old film footage online: 4 tips

1. Search for your topic on YouTube, the world’s largest video-sharing website. My book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox has an entire chapter devoted to YouTube searches for family history, so I won’t go into great depth here. I will tell you to think of search terms that pertain to the family history stories you want to share: a person’s name, a place, an event in history, or even an occupation or industry. Enter those search terms at YouTube.com.

Betty lived in the 20th century and was recognized publicly for her work during her own lifetime. So there was a good chance that old film or video would exist about her. And they do! A YouTube search brought up video interviews with her, such as this one:

2. Repeat the searches on Google. YouTube searches can only bring up what’s actually been put on YouTube. Google searches are much wider, across millions of websites, and you may find some other wonderful resources. When your Google search results come up, click Videos to narrow your results:

find old film footage online

You’ll have some duplication with results from YouTube. In the case of Betty McIntosh, I found two additional videos that didn’t come up on YouTube. One of them was at NBC News.com and the other was an hour-long interview on C-Span!

find old film footage

3. Run multiple searches on both Google and YouTube. Repeat your searches with various search parameters to broaden or narrow your results, or to capture different kinds of results. In Betty’s case, keywords such as spy and reporter were important to filter out unwanted results.

Remember that Google and YouTube aren’t specifically designed for searching for name variants like your favorite genealogy website is. So these sites may not recognize nicknames or other name variants, such as “Elizabeth” instead of “Betty.” Also search by surnames only, maiden and married names and even initials. Here’s a quick video tutorial I did on using asterisks to search for name variations on Google:

4. Pay attention to copyright restrictions if you want to share old film footage, such as if you’re making your own family history video. For example, I found these copyright restrictions for using C-Span video (noncommercial use is allowed and there’s even a handy video clipping tool right on the site if you want to clip part of it and save it).

More on YouTube for Family History: Get Inspired!

6 Tips for Using YouTube for Family Historyyoutube genealogy find old film footage

History documentaries online can help you understand your family’s story

My Most Amazing Family History Find Ever–and It’s On YouTube

 

Start Digging! New Worldwide Records Added to FamilySearch

Millions of new images and indexed records are added to FamilySearch.org every week. But here’s one that particularly caught my eye: 5.6 million records from Massachusetts Land Records dating  from 1620 to the 1980s.

Massachusetts Land Records, Hampshire County, sample deed from browsable record set at FamilySearch.org.

It’s a browsable collection of “land and property records from the Massachusetts Land Office and county courthouses. Records include land grants, patents, deeds, and mortgages. This collection includes all counties in Massachusetts.” Though these images aren’t indexed in FamilySearch per se, I noticed that when I clicked on a sample county (Hampshire), there were alphabetical deed indexes dating back as far as the records themselves. So it looks like in at least some cases, you’ll be able to browse those indexes and then find the deeds you want.

Looking for other new records just added to FamilySearch.org? Check out the table below.

Collection Indexed Records Digital Images Comments
Austria, Seigniorial Records, 1537–1888 0 237,988 Added images to an existing collection.
Brazil, Piauí, Civil Registration, 1875-2012 0 116,423 Added images to an existing collection.
China, Cemetery Records, 1820-1983 0 72,747 New browsable image collection.
China, Collection of Genealogies, 1239-2011 0 204,422 Added images to an existing collection.
Honduras, Civil Registration, 1841-1968 0 337,367 New browsable image collection.
Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 0 84,251 Added images to an existing collection.
Peru, Amazonas, Civil Registration, 1939-1995 0 5,417 Added images to an existing collection.
Portugal, Beja, Catholic Church Records, 1550-1911 0 94,902 Added images to an existing collection.
Portugal, Braga, Priest Application Files (Genere et Moribus), 1596-1911 0 69,030 New browsable image collection.
Portugal, Évora, Civil Registration and Miscellaneous Records, 1554-1938 0 5,708 New browsable image collection.
Portugal, Viana do Castelo, Catholic Church Records, 1537-1909 0 83,446 Added images to an existing collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1811 0 2,387 New browsable image collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1818 0 2,369 New browsable image collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1834 0 2,436 New browsable image collection.
U.S., Hawaii, Honolulu Passenger Lists, 1900-1953 0 191,701 New browsable image collection.
U.S., Idaho, Gooding County Records, 1879-1962 0 52,108 New browsable image collection.
U.S., Maine, Piscataquis County, Deed Books, 1838-1902 0 56,970 New browsable image collection.
U.S., Massachusetts, Land Records, 1620-1986 0 5,766,135 New browsable image collection.

 

FamilySearch Photos and Stories: 1 Million Images Uploaded

FamilySearch users have created one of the largest family photo albums in the world in record time: one million images in just under five months. That’s a lot of pictures upload, tagged, linked to relatives and now just waiting for us to go in and snag copies.

Why the massive response? Pick your favorite reason:

  • uploading photos from your computer, smart phone or tablet is easy;
  • If you post a photo, you can share a direct link through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or email;
  • pictures are publicly available to anyone (with or without a FamilySearch account);
  • you can caption pictures and tag subjects to link them to their profile in FamilySearch’s family tree;
  • you can collaborate with other descendants to identify everyone in a group photo;
  • the site promises free online storage of your digital images forever (“. Every photo is backed up with a redundant system and preserved in state-of-the-art archive facilities”).

If you have a tree at FamilySearch (which is free), you can easily click to see what pictures others have uploaded of your relatives. Just log in, click Photos, then Find Photos of your Ancestors.

FamilySearch offers these tips for sharing your photos on their site:

“If you don’t have a traditional scanner, you can use your cell phone. Just take a picture of your family photos, use the browser on your phone, and go to FamilySearch.org. Then click on Photos, and proceed from there.

If you know photos that exist of your ancestors but belong to other family members, contact these relatives and ask them to publish the photos to your family’s tree, or set a date to scan or take pictures of their collection. You can also send out a request for family photos over social media to your relatives. If there are family heirlooms (photos, furniture, bric-a-brac, letters, mementos, medals), take pictures of them and upload the photos to the profiles of your ancestors in the family tree. Then stories can be added by anyone to support the photos and describe them. These photos and stories will become keepsakes for everyone to have and will be preserved freely for future generations.”

Check out this 4-minute video on using Photos and Stories feature at FamilySearch, and you can contribute to the next million photos!

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