I’m addicted to the “moving images” section of the Internet Archive — particularly the Prelinger Archives, recently absorbed into the Library of Congress. This massive collection of “ephemeral films”, a term which covers just about anything not made for commercial entertainment (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) is a fantastic source for unexpected historical treasures.

I’ve found all manner of fascinating clips here, from documentaries about 50s-era juvenile delinquents to home movies of the ’39 World’s Fair — about 2000 are online. A nice documentary introduction to the film archive actually narrated by Rick Prelinger (a San Franciscan!) can be found here — well worth a look.

Since I can’t seem to stay away from this stuff, I will share it, starting with…

Mr. Summers’ 1941 vacation

John Summers visits San Francisco in 1941 with a movie camera stocked with Kodachrome! His 13-minute home-made record begins with a series of beautiful aerial views of the pre-war city, shot right from the window of the DC-3! Before long he’s on a streetcar rumbling along Market Street, and finally ends up in Chinatown and North Beach. I don’t know a thing about Mr. Summers, and as a filmmaker he ain’t Coppola, but what an unlikely treasure.

Higher-resolution files for this film are available on the Internet Archive page.

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