American History in Video | Alexander Street

American History in Video

People who witness notable historic moments, either in real time or on film, remember forever how they felt at the time. Who can forget the shock of seeing the helicopter pushed off the USS Blue Ridge carrier at the Fall of Saigon in 1975, or the thrill of watching Neil Armstrong taking his first step onto the moon’s surface? Now you can experience these and tens of thousands of other historical moments in the same visceral way, with American History in Video.

A landmark collection, the largest of its kind, American History in Video lets you bring thousands of titles into your library for a fraction of what it would cost to purchase them individually. Powerful interface tools and features let you navigate, access, re-purpose, and share video as never before.

Contemporaneous footage

American History in Video includes 1,600 total hours of streaming video content. More than half is contemporaneous video from the 1890s to the 1980s. The early newsreels, including the complete series of United Newsreel and Universal Newsreel, available online in their entirety only in this collection, capture history as it was made and reported to viewers of the time.

Award-winning documentaries

American History in Video also includes hundreds of the documentaries most frequently used in history classrooms, from leading video content producers such as PBS, California Newsreel, Pennebaker Hegedus Films, and others. Featuring dramatic reenactments and engaging analysis from prominent scholars and experts, these documentaries bring history alive for students and give public library patrons hundreds of educational video titles they can enjoy from home. Learn about the Battle of Gettysburg from Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson. Understand the scope and legacy of the American Civil War with Ken Burns’s riveting PBS series. Grasp the zeitgeist of an era through PBS’s Summer of Love and Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

Tools for teaching and research

American History in Video is designed specifically for teaching and research, packed with features that help you find, view, share, and analyze.

  • Browse tools: In addition to the browse fields, the visual Tables of Contents let you scan what’s in a thirty-minute video within seconds.
  • Synchronized transcripts scroll along with the videos and are keyword searchable, letting you jump around within the video quickly.
  • Linking and sharing: Permanent, per-second URLs let you cite, bookmark, link, embed, and share either entire videos or custom clips that you create yourself. Organize clips in playlists by theme, research topic, or course unit.
  • Embed video directly in your online syllabus, course management system, library Web site, and online subject guides. Show clips or entire videos without worrying about permissions or copyright infringement—you’re automatically covered by the terms of your library’s subscription.

How will you use it?

As a biographical resource, American History in Video includes hundreds of profiles of great American leaders and personalities. As an encyclopedia of history, it provides footage of seminal historic events. Compare Kennedy’s rhetorical flair with Nixon’s. Examine racial stereotypes as presented in newsreels featuring African Americans prior to 1950. Consider Ed Herlihy’s use of alliteration and other tropes of propaganda in WWII newsreels. These and thousands of other searches are easy with American History in Video.

Publication details

American History in Video is an online collection available to academic, public, and school libraries via subscription or one-time purchase of perpetual rights. No special setup or software is required—all you need is an Internet browser.


A solid ten. It tops any other similarly themed resource in its field and, at this price, is an amazing deal. . . This is a product I wish every library in the United States could make accessible to its researchers, from elementary-school children to history scholars, and everybody in between. Resoundingly recommended.

Library Journal

A beautifully indexed film database...Recommended.


2009 Top Reference Award Winner