Write Stuff – All Things New (and Old)

?Tis the season for all things new: new-fallen snow, new mittens, and new books for the people on your holiday list. But in the midst of all that newness, you might want to treat yourself to something old: one of the incredibly rich archives of books, newspapers, and films to be discovered online.

First up is British Pathé, an online archive of ?90,000 videos covering newsreel, sports footage, social history documentaries, entertainment and music stories from 1896 to 1976.? One of the nice features of this collection is that the newsreels were professionally produced by British Pathé (the company began in the 1890s), and the sound and image quality is well-preserved.

Not only can you watch Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman leave their wedding ceremony, but you can also see footage of the FBI cracking the Sinatra kidnapping case, and view a 1952 film clip of Iraq’s newly discovered oil fields. The site groups its fascinating footage into categories, including Fashion and Music, War and Revolution, Sports and Leisure, and Historical Figures. If you’ve got plenty of web surfing time over the holidays, this site is well worth checking out.

If you prefer books over film, you can’t beat Project Gutenberg. It’s widely known, but for the uninitiated, here’s the scoop: Project Gutenberg ?is the first and largest single collection of free electronic books,? and all titles have passed into the public domain. With more than 36,000 e-books available, there’s something for every reader, and the Top 100 list includes many genres?from Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House.

And for Canadian students, the Project Gutenberg Canada site offers some great finds that could be useful for your next Canadian history essay.

For magazine buffs, Time has an online archive that will keep you busy for days. You can search through articles and covers dating back to 1923, and Time has also created a set of collections based on popular categories, subjects, and people. The articles are interesting, but It’s equally telling to search for covers by year. The changing artistic styles alone offer a fascinating view of different eras.

If you want a blast from Canada’s collective past, the CBC digital archives should make you happy. The main CBC archives hold ?more than seven decades of CBC radio and television history . . . in millions of discs, films, tapes, photographs, paper records and electronic databases.? Though not every film and audio clip can be included on the website, it gives a good idea of the collection’s richness.

You’ll find Garrison Keillor talking about ghosts on Writers & Company; video clips from Front Page Challenge, discussing Canada’s PoW camps in northern Ontario; and a fascinating discussion, from 1945, on women’s roles in the new post-war workplace. And That’s barely scratching the surface.

So as December pulls us toward finding, wrapping, and exclaiming over new and glittering things, take some time to explore the old. You just might find some unexpected gifts waiting for you there.

S.D. Livingston is the author of several novels, including the suspenseful Kings of Providence. Visit her website for information on her writing?and for more musings on the literary world.

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