You’ve probably read about events like, say, the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Certainly you studied them in high school history class. But until Wednesday, you couldn’t see news footage of the bombing of Pearl Harbor as it was shown at the time — because that’s when, for the very first time, the Associated Press put footage of that incident and half a million others online.

There’s footage of the Titanic pulling out of an Irish port. A vintage newscast about the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. Video of Martin Luther King Jr. under arrest in Selma.

All told, AP and a partner, the newsreel archive British Movietone, published 550,000 video stories spanning more than 1 million minutes and 120 years to its new YouTube channel.

It’s the biggest dump of historical news the site has ever seen. It’s also a huge and exciting step in an industry-wide push to digitize and democratize information that’s typically been locked up in archives and museums: In the past year, for instance, huge troves of photos, artworks and other historical artifacts have been digitized at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian.

[Smithsonian goes global by showcasing collections online]

All of this is, of course, a little overwhelming. You could be forgiven for visiting YouTube with the high-minded goal of intellectual betterment, as I did, and then defaulting to … 1950s kittens.

They’re so cute though.

So we asked Jenny Hammerton, an AP archivist, to point us toward the historical highlights that no browser should miss. (Because, as she notes, “half-a-million videos is indeed a daunting amount to get to grips with!”) Here’s what we, with Hammerton’s help, came up with.

1. The Titanic leaving Belfast Lough for Southampton, 1912

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2. World War I, 1914-1918

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3. Stock market crash, 1929

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4. The Lindbergh baby kidnapping, 1932

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5. The Hindenburg disaster, 1937

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6. Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941

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7. Bombing of London, 1941

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8. Victory in Europe Day, 1945

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9. Bombing of Hiroshima, 1945

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10. Vietnam War, early ’60s

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11. Eyewitness footage of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, 1963

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12. Martin Luther King Jr., in Selma, 1965

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13. Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., 1968

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14. Apollo 11 and 12 moon landings, 1969

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15. Tiananmen Square protests, 1989

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16. The fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989

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17. Nelson Mandela released from prison, 1990

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18. Amateur video of 9/11 attacks, 2001

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19. Tahrir Square protests, 2011

Hammerton is also organizing the newly uploaded videos into playlists of her own: the AP currently has collections for crime, celebrity and “iconic” history videos, among others. We recommend the fashion playlist, if only to see these “futuristic and outlandish” wedding dresses from 1966.

“Yes, because what girl doesn’t dream of looking like a poodle at her wedding?” one YouTuber commented, accurately.

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