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Prelinger Archives

View thousands of films from the Prelinger Archives!

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View thousands of films from the Prelinger Archives!

Prelinger Archives was founded in 1983 by Rick Prelinger in New York City. Over the next twenty years, it grew into a collection of over 60,000 "ephemeral" (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films. In 2002, the film collection was acquired by the Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Prelinger Archives remains in existence, holding approximately 11,000 digitized and videotape titles (all originally derived from film) and a large collection of home movies, amateur and industrial films acquired since 2002. Its primary collection emphasis has turned toward home movies and amateur films, with approximately 18,000 items held as of Spring 2021. Its goal remains to collect, preserve, and facilitate access to films of historic significance that haven't been collected elsewhere. Included are films produced by and for many hundreds of important US corporations, nonprofit organizations, trade associations, community and interest groups, and educational institutions. Getty Images represents the collection for stock footage sale, and over 8,500 items (representing approximately 6,000 distinct films) are available here.

RIGHTS: Please read the text in the "Rights" box on this page before contacting us with questions.

PLEASE NOTE: Since 2012, we have been continuously uploading newer and higher-quality versions of many titles, including one-part files of most films that were previously available only in two or more parts. Many films in our collection appear in several versions, and you can usually determine the highest quality by finding the version that was uploaded most recently.

STOCK FOOTAGE: Information on licensing stock footage through Getty Images, our exclusive representative, is here.

The Field Guide to Sponsored Films by Rick Prelinger was published by the National Film Preservation Foundation in January 2007. It describes 452 historically or culturally significant motion pictures commissioned by businesses, charities, advocacy groups, and state or local government units between 1897 and 1980. The annotated filmography features repository information for some 350 titles as well as links to works viewable online. Also included are an introductory essay and name and subject indexes. The book is recommended for all interested in the history of advertising, industrial and sponsored films.

A free copy of the 152-page NFPF publication can be viewed and downloaded here.

Click to see a Tag Cloud of the Archive's Prelinger Collection.

Click for more information about the Prelinger Archives.

Information about Prelinger Library, an appropriation-friendly library of printed materials located in San Francisco, is here.

If you have historical home movies of San Francisco or Detroit that might work in future Lost Landscapes urban history screenings, Rick would be delighted to hear from you. He can be reached here.

This collection contains two kinds of material:

Public domain material that you can use according to the terms of the Creative Commons Public Domain license. For details on this license, please click the Creative Commons license logo below. You do not have to contact Prelinger Archives for permission to use this kind of material, if you have downloaded it. If you need higher-quality material or a written use agreement, please contact us (see below).

Other material that does not carry a Creative Commons license. If you wish to use this material in a project or production, please contact us for further information.

Further information on Creative Commons-licensed material:

Rick Prelinger and The Internet Archive hereby offer public domain films from Prelinger Archives to all for free downloading and reuse.

You are warmly encouraged to download, use and reproduce these films in whole or in part, in any medium or market throughout the world. You are also warmly encouraged to share, exchange, redistribute, transfer and copy these films, and especially encouraged to do so for free.

Any derivative works that you produce using these films are yours to perform, publish, reproduce, sell, or distribute in any way you wish without any limitations.

This statement of rights describes the rights granted to you so that you can use films from the online Prelinger collection at the Internet Archive.

Your right to use these films is granted by the Creative Commons Public Domain license when it appears on the "detail page" for a film. For details on this license, please click the Creative Commons license logo below.

Neither the Internet Archive nor Rick Prelinger can offer additional information regarding the rights to these films, or provide written license agreements. If you require a written license agreement or further information on the rights status of any Prelinger Collection titles, please see below.

Please be aware that:

-- the Creative Commons Public Domain license is the only license relating to films from the online Prelinger Collection;

-- the Internet Archive "Terms of Use" do not apply to the online Prelinger Collection;

-- the CC Public Domain license refers to the public domain status of the films, but not necessarily to every element that a film may contain;

-- and that other films, videos, texts and audio files hosted at the Internet Archive are not necessarily covered by the same license that governs the online Prelinger Collection. Please research these items individually if you wish to reuse any of them.

Descriptions, synopses, shotlists and other metadata provided by Prelinger Archives to this site are copyrighted jointly by Prelinger Archives and Getty Images. They may be quoted, excerpted or reproduced for educational, scholarly, nonprofit or archival purposes, but may not be reproduced for commercial purposes of any kind without permission.

If you require a written license agreement or need access to stock footage in a physical format (such as videotape or a higher-quality digital file), please visit our Stock Footage page. Neither Rick Prelinger nor the Internet Archive furnish written license agreements, nor do they comment on the rights status of a given film above and beyond this Creative Commons license.

Further information on works from Prelinger Archives can be found here. Questions should be directed to Rick Prelinger at Prelinger Archives, PO Box 590622, San Francisco, CA 94159-0622 USA.

Created on
June 4
Bill T.
tracey pooh
A/V Geeks

Total Views 186,628,076


Total Views 186,628,076


Total Items 8,780


(data not available)

Ephemeral Films
13,729 items
Prelinger Library
4,332 items
35mm Stock Footage
1,543 items