World Newsreels Online, 1929-1966 | Alexander Street

World Newsreels Online, 1929-1966

In December of 1941, cinema audiences around the world—from New York to Tokyo, Amsterdam to Paris—waited expectantly for news of Pearl Harbor. World Newsreels Online, 1929–1966 lets today’s students and historians see what those audiences saw and more, by delivering more than 500 hours of newsreel content instantly to any computer or mobile device.

The content of the collection focuses primarily on the World  War II era, with supplementary coverage of American life through the mid-1960s. This landmark online collection will include nine newsreel series from four countries—the United States, Japan, France, and the Netherlands. It includes 8,000 meticulously indexed and transcribed individual newsreels that bring the conflict to life in a visceral and immediate way that text cannot match. With one click, users can jump from city to city or date to date, viewing original footage with English transcription.

In the years leading up to and during the war, newsreels had an unparalleled political and social impact. During this time period, all feature films worldwide would begin with a newsreel in the audience's native language. Topical coverage was broad, including health, scientific and industrial progress, religion, sports, fashion, politics, meteorology, agriculture, and disasters.

In war times, the newsreel became increasingly important as a propaganda tool, with more than one-third of each newsreel devoted to the war. Today, newsreels provide a clear archive of how governments shared news, manipulated facts, and influenced their populace.

These films are often the only audio-visual record that remains of historical and cultural events, making them a powerful resource for historians and students of politics, sports, economics, media studies, and other areas.


The collection features full runs of newsreels in their original form wherever available. Content inWorld Newsreels Online, 1929–1966 includes:

  • Nippon News—36 hours of original Japanese newsreels from 1940 to 1948 with English transcripts. Driven by close collaboration between the government and the news industry, Nippon News was Japan’s only newsreel during World War II.
  • Four French newsreels that provide distinct perspectives and varying levels of propaganda. The collection provides 75 hours of fully translated and transcribed news items from:
    • Les Actualités Mondiales—Selections 15-20 minutes in length, adapted from the German series that ran from 1940 to 1946.
    • France Actualités—A coproduction of the Vichy regime and the Germans from 1942 to 1944.
    • France Libre Actualités—1944–1945 segments from an offshoot of the French Resistance.
    • Les Actualités Francaise—selections from the 1945–1969 series in which the French state discussed war topics, consequences, and reconstruction.
  • The March of Time™—The full run of this American series, 115 hours of fully transcribed content. The series, which aired in theaters and on television from 1929 to 1966, was set apart by its high production value and global coverage.
  • United Newsreel—More than 35 hours of the1942–1946 American weekly newsreel produced by the US Office of War Information, complete with transcripts.
  • Universal Newsreel—More than 200 hours of content with full transcripts from Universal Studios’s biweekly series that ran from 1929 to 1946.
  • Polygoon-Profliti—87 hours of original Dutch film clips produced from 1939–1945, which presents a strong picture of how propaganda was presented to occupied countries.

Newsreels are also available in country-specific modules.

Functionality for scholarship and classroom use

Films in the collection have been fully translated and come paired with synched transcriptions, excepting Dutch content. The transcriptions are keyword searchable, opening up the materials for scholarly analysis and research.

In-depth indexing by subject, year, historical era, historical event, people, and places lets users easily locate relevant materials. These indices can also be combined—for example to find specific words spoken by a particular person.

Sample searches:

  • Compare Japanese and American footage from the Battle of Midway.
  • Examine Pearl Harbor footage from Axis and Allied perspectives, with a focus on perspectives from occupied countries.
  • Find footage of sporting events.
  • Which national leaders were featured in newsreels most frequently?
  • How did Japanese attitudes toward the US evolved over the course of the conflict?

Publication details

World Newsreels Online, 1929–1966 is an online collection available to academic, public, and school libraries worldwide via subscription or one-time purchase of perpetual rights. No special setup or software is required—all you need is a Web browser.


World Newsreels Online is a high-quality collection that would be an excellent asset for college, university, public, and high-school libraries. Summing Up: Highly recommended.