Prelinger’s Archives is a collection of thousands of hours of films that have been digitized and made available to you online. These are a varied collection of “ephemeral” films: those sponsored by corporations and organizations, educational films, and amateur and home movies, mostly from the early to mid-twentieth century. You probably won’t find much information about your ancestors in these films but they will show you the environment in which your more recent ancestors lived. And, yes, for many of us these will show the environments that WE lived in when we were young.
Founded in 1983, Prelinger’s collection has amassed to over 60,000 films, 65% of which are said to be orphan works, meaning they lack copyright owners and active custodians. The films can be watched online or, if you prefer, downloaded and saved to your computer’s hard drive(s) or flash drives. All the films are available free online, thanks to hosting by the Internet Archive.