I know, I know, this is old news, like 3 years old news, but I recently re-watched this video and just HAD to share.

Photograph of Jesus by Laurie Hill in association with the Getty Images Short & Sweet Film Challenge from Hulton Archive on Vimeo.

I found this video a couple years ago, and forwarded it to my old colleagues at the North Dakota State Archives and Research Library. In places like that, an important aspect of your job is assisting researchers. Some researchers know what they’re doing – they are experienced genealogists or college professors – but many are just curious, college students or first-time researchers. Many of the research requests we got at the ND State Archives were amusing – at best.

For example:

I was once asked to find a birth certificate for a woman born in North Dakota. Not a difficult task… normally. But this woman was born in North Dakota in 1803. Now, this might not be an strange question in many other (mostly eastern) states, but North Dakota didn’t see non-Native American visitors until the French-Canadian trader La Vérendrye visited the state in 1738. Then, of course, Lewis and Clark in 1804. Fewer than 2,000 people in 1870. As far as I know, North Dakota’s early Native American residents did not leave birth records in archives.

I tried to explain all this to the woman looking for the birth certificate. She did not believe me. Because all reference desk and archival technicians are liars? No, because it’s easy to believe the North Dakota State Archive must have EVERYTHING. Which is something the Getty Image’s Hulton Archive gets a lot.

According to Wikipedia.com, “Getty Images, Inc. is a stock photo agency, based in Seattle, Washington, USA. It is a supplier of stock images for business and consumers with an archive of 80 million still images and illustrations and more than 50,000 hours of stock film footage.” Want a photo of Bill Clinton for your blog? Call up Getty Images. They get THOUSANDS of requests for photos each week. Some easy to fulfill, others are… well… impossible.

In the video (produced by Short and Sweet and Getty Images) a Hulton Archives staffer explains some of the more wild requests they get – for example – photos of Jesus, Hitler at the 1948 Olympic Games, Jack the Ripper, Dodo birds, Yettis, and 12 astronauts on the moon… at once.

This little video is sooooo amusing, and especially if you’re in the reference or archival field. Because, it’s ok to giggle at other peoples’ expenses… as long as it’s for the good of preserving history… right?

There were 3 other short films made about the Hulton Archives:


– Ann Erling Gofus