Yeah . . . you might able to track them down and, yeah, you might even be able to view and download them for classroom use. But it’s unlikely that you will be able to find an easier way to browse, view and download U.S. government public domain videos than you can at CriticalPast.

CriticalPast is

one of the largest privately held online archival footage sources in the world. The collection spans thousands of hours of video, millions of still photos, and continues to grow. It is easily searched by professionals and non-professionals alike, and placing an order for footage or photos is simple and straight-forward.

The interface is pretty simple – you can browse for video clips via a timeline or search by keywords. It’s also easy to refine your search results by date, place, color v. black/white and sound. CriticalPast’s goal is pretty simple. Have users pay for the video download, usually around $3-4. But it is possible to watch the video clips without purchasing.

And I’ve just started playing with the site but it seems like you can view entire video clips. The downside is that you can’t watch full screen. You should be able to make the smaller screen work for you if there’s a clip that’s aligned to your content. There’s almost 575,000 video clips going back to the 1890s so you should be able find something you can use.

And if you really like the clip, I’m pretty sure CriticalPast would take your money!

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