The Internet Archive : Universal Access to Human Knowledge

To Access: Internet Archive Homepage or at

What IS the Internet Archive, anyway?

The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library, with the purpose of offering permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format. Founded in 1996 and located in the Presidio of San Francisco, the Archive has been receiving data donations from Alexa Internet and others. In late 1999, the organization started to grow to include more well-rounded collections. Now the Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software, as well as archived web pages in our collections (taken from the Internet Archive About Us page ).

Available at the Internet Archive are:
  • Over 160,000 moving images
  • Over 63,000 concerts
  • Over 328,000 audio recordings
  • Over 1,300,000 texts
  • Millions of archived web pages and collections
  • Most items are available for free downloading!

Moving Image Archive

To Access: Moving Images

  • Library of free movies, films, and videos
  • Items are browsable and searchable by sub-collection, category, or keyword
  • Items can be downloaded or streamed

Example Keyword Search:
  • Click on the advanced search link at the top of the page
  • In the "Any Field" enter "african americans and education"
  • In the "All mediatypes" dropdown menu in the "AND mediatype" field, click on "Movies"
  • Click on "Search"
  • In the results list, click on "Negro Colleges in Wartime"

Key Terms for Viewing and Saving Digital Media
From the Internet user's point-of-view, to download a file is to request it from another computer (or from a Web page on another computer) and to receive it.

From the Internet user's point-of-view, to upload a file is to send a file to a computer that is set-up to receive it.

Streaming video is content sent in compressed form over the Internet and displayed by the viewer in real time. With streaming video or streaming media a Web user does not have to wait to download a file to play it. Instead, the media is sent in a continuous stream of data and is played as it arrives. The user needs a player, which is a special program that uncompresses and sends video data to the display and audio data to speakers. A player can be either an integral part of a browser or downloaded from the software maker's Web site.

Text Archive

To Access: Texts

  • Free to download, print, and enjoy
  • Items are browsable and searchable by sub-collection, category, or keyword

Example Author Search:
  • Click on the "Project Gutenberg" link at the top of the page
Project Gutenberg began in 1971 by Michael Hart as a community project to make plain text versions of books available freely to all.
  • Scroll down the page, click on the "Browse by creator" link
  • Scroll down the page, click on the Du Bois, W.E.B. link
  • In the results list, click on "The Quest of the Silver Fleece: A Novel"

Audio Archive

To access: Audio

  • Audio and MP3 library contains over 200,000 free digital recordings
  • Includes such items as alternative news programming, Grateful Dead concerts, Old Time Radio shows, book and poetry readings, and original music uploaded by users

Example Search

  • Click on the "News and Public Affairs" link at the top of the page
  • Under Sub-Collections, click on "Open Democracy"
Open Democracy includes independent media through interviews and contributions from authors.
  • Under "Recently Viewed Items," clickon "Freedom to write, Orhan Pamuk, Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie"

Web Archive

To access: Web

  • Browse through 85 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago!
  • Find archived websites by topic - search web collections
  • Use the Internet Archive Wayback Machine - a service that allows people to visit archived versions of Web sites. Visitors to the Wayback Machine can type in a URL, select a date range, and then begin surfing on an archived version of the Web.
Example Search:
  • Under Web Collections, click on "September 11th" View the Collections link
  • Under Collections Overview tab, click on "Browse this Collection" link

Basic Research Help

Please click the Ask a Librarian icon if you have any questions concerning these guides, need help finding material for your research or any general questions you might have.

General Library Information

Research guide prepared on 4/24/2009 by Gena Pliakas: