Over the years, NARA’s GIPHY Channel has been surprisingly popular with the public. We first launched our channel on GIPHY in 2016, not knowing if the public would be interested in this way of sharing our records. We quickly learned that we were on to something when we received nearly 32 million views that year. By the end of 2020, we had a total of 2.3 billion views. In 2021, our GIFS received another 1.7 billion views, for a cumulative total of over 4 billion views for this project and counting. This is an astonishing number that eclipses the views of our records on all of our other platforms, except for our records on Wikipedia, which routinely achieve one billion views annually.
The GIPHY platform is particularly popular with younger adults, many who may never come to our archives.gov website. This is an inexpensive way for us to move our records out into the culture in ways we had not done previously. The platform is free to use and NARA staff are technically adept at creating GIFs. They have fun making them, too. Over the years, NARA experts have been invited to train staff at other government agencies and cultural heritage institutions to use GIPHY as well.
Here’s a look at the most popular Archives GIFs from 2021 and some of the reasons they were trending:
|Iwo Jima Flag Raising
52.4 Million Views in 2021
|One of the most iconic scenes in American history, this footage of the flag raising during the Battle of Iwo Jima is often associated with trends around the American Flag, the Marine Corps, and World War II.
46.7 Million Views in 2021
|A popular winter-themed GIF, these intrepid backcountry skiers are part of an avalanche scouting party in the Canadian Rockies, and featured in a Universal News newsreel from the 1950s.
|Wartime Woman Mechanic
42.9 Million Views in 2021
|This industrious mechanic was featured in the Ford Motor Company’s World War II-era film “Women on the Warpath,” showcasing women’s contribution to the war effort. An evergreen favorite, it is particularly popular during March’s Women’s History Month.
|Vintage Snowball Fight
37.6 Million Views in 2021
|Excerpted from Henry Ford’s early 1900s “Mirror of America,” it’s not hard to see why this vintage schoolyard snowball battle always trends whenever a Twitter #snowballfight breaks out.
|Rocket Launch Spectator
36.4 Million Views in 2021
|This captivated spectator was featured in NASA’s retrospective “America in Space – The First Decade.” Several private space launches this year helped catapult this GIF to the #5 spot for the year.
33.9 Million Views in 2021
|Trained dogs “Waffles” and “Dumpsie” have been perennial favorites ever since our GIPHY channel launched back in 2016 and continue to hold the #1 all-time spot.
33.5 Million Views in 2021
|The top GIF for Women’s History Month in March, tennis pioneer Althea Gibson receives the trophy for women’s singles at the 1958 U.S. National Championship (now the US Open).
|Book of Question Marks
30.3 Million Views in 2021
|“The Day the Books Went Blank” was a 1960s PSA on the value of a strong public library system, produced by a consortium of New England Libraries. It provides the source for a number of compelling images, including this enigmatic book of question marks. It remains one of our all-time popular GIFs, second only to Waffles & Dumpsie.
|Weary Couple from the 1963 March on Washington
24.6 Million Views in 2021
|The sense of exhaustion and accomplishment is almost palpable in this scene from the end of Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington. Not surprisingly, it’s most popular during February’s Black History Month.
|Olympic Downhill Slalom
21.1 Million Views in 2021
|Jimmy Heuga “dances through the gates” to win the bronze medal in the Men’s Slalom at the 1964 Winter Olympics.