Government Video Website of the Week: Library of Congress’ American Memory

It’s hard to leave this store of endless curiosities and documentation of American history.
Publish date:
Updated on

If you make a visit to the Library of Congress Website (, get prepared to spend some time looking at things you could barely imagine ever existed, much less were posted on the Internet by the United States government for the free viewing of all.

Image placeholder title

Stills from a film of children at an "Indian School" shot by Thomas Edison

The LoC has all sorts of things, but the American Memory section ( alone can suck visitors on for hours at a time. It’s hard to leave this store of endless curiosities and documentation of American history.

You can see loggers floating logs down a river in Maine, shot on grainy black-and-white film in 1906. (Check the “Work and Leisure” section.) You can see kids at an “Indian School” in video made by Thomas Edison. There’s footage and photos of diverse aspects of America’s economic, technological, military and cultural history.

There’s a copious load of old advertisements. You might get thirsty, for example, looking at the feature on 50 years of Coca-Cola ads, complete with footage (and outtakes!) of that monumental early-’70s ad in which people of different nationalities converge on a hilltop to sing about buying the world a Coke.

Image placeholder title

Stills from the legendary hilltop Coke ad

There’s so much more on this site that it’s hard to grasp. And the American Memory is just one part of the sprawling resources of LoC. It’s a great way to get grandpa interested in using the Internet, and to show the kids what life (and commercials) looked like in the old days.

The site includes plenty of additional background on the subjects, links elsewhere within, guides for finding specific items and catalogs of what's bot online but is is available physically in the library's collections.

So, for such an eclectic, creative, vast and growing collection of online photo and video resources, the LoC’s American Memory is the Government VideoWebsite of the Week.

Does your agency, department, city, tribe, country, office or commission make great use of the Web and Web video to serve the public? LetGovernment Videoknow with an e-mail to

See last week’s Website of the Week.