National Archives releases GIFs of historical photos

The National Archives created GIFs from some of its most famous images.

- Just in time for the latest update to the hundreds of millions of iPhones in use around the world, the National Archives, an institution perhaps not known as a bastion of hipness, converted 124 historical moving images from a collection of 600,000 reels into GIFs released on GIPHY for public use anyway we see fit.


"I'm probably the primary GIF-maker here," said Darren Cole, digital engagement specialist with the National Archives. "I make probably 99 percent of the gifs that you see online."

Cole has spent years turning the National Archives into GIFs of Lou Gehrig, Ernest Hemingway and the Great Train Robbery.


While he used to post these GIFs on a Tumblr page, the National Archives recently launched its GIPHY channel, which it plans to fill with archival GIFs going forward.

"GIFs are sort of a fun way to take our collection and make them more accessible to a new audience," he said.

Cole and the National Archives exist to preserve our history but also to make it accessible. These compressed animations of historical moving images that we can text and email and instant-message represent yet another way for the archive to get history to even more people. How and in what context we then choose to use that history is up to us.




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