Managing Video Entries for Your Local Competition with YouTube


Web videos are a great way to raise public awareness and involve your users in sharing stories about the value and power of archives. A variety of social networking tools (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo, even Facebook) provide options for managing video entries for your local competition. You can even embed them in your own website without advanced scripting or programming knowledge.

YouTube is the undisputed heavyweight of video sharing. For our purposes, it delivers all of the necessary tools to provide your institution and the archives profession with broad exposure to the public at large. For example, the National Archives and Records Administration has created a YouTube channel that features more than a dozen "playlists" of categorized videos and has already attracted more than 250,000 upload views! By coordinating efforts within this social network, archives institutions can leverage the I Found It In The Archives public awareness campaign to greater effect. Let's take a look at how this works....

Creating a YouTube Channel

Channels are actually a feature of individual user accounts. Therefore, even if you already are a personal user of YouTube, you may want to create a distinct user account to which you can give a more generic "institutional" name that will appear on your channel (e.g., acmearchivist). Once you have created your account and logged in to YouTube, you can select "My Channel" from the pull-down menu under your username to edit and customize your channel.

Creating a Playlist to Identify Your Local Competition

A playlist is a collection of videos that can be watched on YouTube, shared with other people, or embedded into websites. "Favorites" is your default Playlist, but you can create as many as you want. By creating a new playlist (e.g., "I Found It In The Archives"), you can easily add videos to your local competition, display them on your YouTube channel, and distinguish them from other video collections that you want to manage.

To create a new playlist:

  • Select "My Videos" in the drop-down menu under your username.
  • Click "+ New" next to Playlists in the left-hand column and enter your playlist name, description, and tags. We suggest the following:
    • Name: I Found It In The Archives (2010-2011)
    • Description: A year-long public awareness campaign sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, I Found It In The Archives encourages people who have used archival collections to share their stories of discovery. This playlist features entries to <Your Institution's> local competition. A winner will be selected and submitted to the national competition. For more information, visit
    • Tags: archives archivists archiving genealogy history heritage collections repositories
  • Once you have added your first video to the playlist, you can add a playlist image via the "Edit Details" tab on the playlist screen, which is accessed via the "My Videos" page.

Adding Videos to Your Playlist

Adding videos to your playlist is easy. If you have uploaded a video yourself, you can click on the "Uploaded" link in the left-hand column of the "My Videos" page, check the desired video(s) from your list, and click the "Add to" button. However, you can also add other users' YouTube videos to your playlists, which eliminates the need for file management. 

Note: It is essential that all entrants acknowledge that they understand what is involved and what their participation means. Completion of the Entry Application and Release and Waiver forms is mandatory.

On your playlist details screen, simply click on the "Add videos to playlist" button in the top right-hand corner and you'll see a list of your recent viewing history. Any video that you have watched on YouTube can be added to your playlist.

Soliciting Videos from Prospective Participants

Your users can send you a file for upload as an email attachment but, per above, it's much simpler to encourage them to create their own personal YouTube account, upload their video, and share its location with you. In this way, the individual's name will display as the video creator and s/he can control the title and description of the video directly. Be sure to obtain the Entry Application and Release and Waiver for every video that you add to your playlist.

Configuring Your Channel to Display Your Playlists

Once you have a channel and a playlist for your local video competition, there's one more step to complete your setup. On the channel display, click on the "Videos and Playlists" tab. On the left side of the window, select the "Playlists" checkbox and then, on the right side of the screen, check all playlists that apply. Save your changes and you're ready to go!

Additional Options

YouTube's help pages on channels (i.e., Personal Settings and Interacting) provide additional tips on a range of other configuration options, including Friends, Subscribers, Ratings, Comments, etc.  One option that you may want to consider is embedding video content directly into your institution's webpage. This can be done with individual videos, with playlists, and/or with channels:

  • To embed a particular video: Go to the video page in YouTube and click the <Embed> button underneath the player. Copy the code displayed and paste it into the HTML source of your website page(s).
  • To embed a playlist: Go to the playlist details screen on the "My Videos" page and click on the "Share" tab to obtain the embed code.
  • To embed a channel: Click here for instructions.

Submitting Your Local Entries to the National Competition

The Society of American Archivists has used these guidelines to create its own YouTube channel and playlist for the I Found It In The Archives national competition. After you complete your review and selection of your local video entries, we invite you to submit the following materials to

  1. The original entry form(s) and waiver(s) for your finalist(s).
  2. If applicable, an attached copy of the winning essay, which must be accompanied by a photograph of the author.
  3. If applicable, an attached video file or, preferably, a link to the video published on your YouTube channel.
  4. Please specify within your email message the name of your repository and your contact information.

In the meantime, visit SAA on YouTube and....

  • Subscribe to our channel,
  • Add us as a YouTube Friend, and/or
  • Add a Comment to the page.

Share your thoughts, questions, and plans for I Found It In The Archives so that, together, we can make this effort go viral!


Related Pages

« I Found It In The Archives! (Home)
I Found It! Artwork


I Found It In The Archives! Kit (PDF)

Customizable Forms:

Entry / Application / Release & Waiver

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Twitter: #foundarch