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Historical Stock Videos for May

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Timeless Clips for Your New Stories

Explore historical stock videos for May events as we surface archival gems from our vast editorial library—uncovering top-quality, timely inspiration for your marketing calendars, news, or documentary projects. This month, we feature the Empire State Building, the Panama Canal, Mother’s Day, Mt. St. Helens, and Novak Djokovic.

 

The Empire State Building Dedication

May 1, 1931

President Herbert Hoover officially dedicated New York City’s Empire State Building, symbolically pressing a button from the White House to “turn on” the building’s lights. The Art-Deco icon is an extraordinary feat of construction.

The structure juts a quarter mile into the sky — yet your elevator would go from the ground to the top floor by the time you finish this paragraph! Its design drew on the look of a pencil as part of a race to build the world’s tallest building, sometimes rising by 4.5 stories every week. Three thousand four hundred workers were employed daily, offering thousands a lifeline during the Great Depression.

Explore 102 stories with our Empire State Building collection.

1930 – Construction Workers Working On The Empire State Building Have A Good Video by retrofootage.

 

Panama Canal Construction Begins

May 4, 1905

Many envisioned a shortcut around South America, but connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans proved a mammoth task. On ‘Acquisition Day,’ the U.S. officially assumed control of the ambitious project after a failed French attempt. Accidents, natural forces, and tropical diseases, including yellow fever and malaria, took a heavy toll. Between 1904 and 1913, 5,855 worker deaths were recorded.

Their sacrifices led to groundbreaking research that revealed mosquitoes as disease spreaders, benefiting millions worldwide. Today, the Panama Canal connects over 160 countries and 44 trade routes, remaining an enduring engineering marvel.

Rethink what you know about the Panama Canal with footage from our dedicated collection.

Panama Canal – Workers Gouge Panama Canal Video by VUSschneider.

 

First Mother’s Day Holiday Proclaimed

May 9, 1914

President Woodrow Wilson officially declared Mother’s Day an annual national holiday on the second Sunday of May. Many sources credit Philadelphia’s Ana Jarvis with initiating the campaign for a national Mother’s Day, born of a desire to honor her late mother. Jarvis wrote letters to newspapers and politicians, and her efforts paid off.

Sadly, she became disillusioned with its commercialization and grew to oppose what she started; by fighting against profiteering and even facing legal battles and arrests. Her efforts didn’t prevent the holiday’s commercialization. Still, we reflect on her pure intentions with every breakfast-in-bed, pajama-clad hug, and homemade card given a century later.

Celebrate motherhood with our nostalgic Mother’s Day collection.

Mother Dance With Their Children – 1949 Video by GovernmentFootage

 

Mount St. Helens Erupts

May 18, 1980

Something formidable had been brewing in Washington State. After a month of erratic signs, Mount St. Helens finally expelled an energy equivalent to 8x the total explosive force deployed during World War II, including two atomic bombs.
On this fateful day, a magnitude-5.1 quake shook the volcano. The north face transformed into a churning fluid before collapsing, stripping 1,300 feet off the summit in mere seconds. Lightning bolts and a volcanic cloud surged skyward before scorching volcanic material pierced the mountainside at over 300 miles per hour.

All surrounds were destroyed, with countless wildlife and 57 lives lost. However, a fortunate few survived: some fishermen jumped into rivers, and another mountain serendipitously shielded a family of hikers. The eruption led to intensified research of America’s volcanoes, converting diverse experts to the study of volcanology.

Get to know Mount St Helen’s with this curated media collection.

1980S Washington: Time Lapse Of Volcanic Eruption. Cloud Of Smoke by avgeeks

 

Novak Djokovic is Born

May 22, 1987

Born to a ski-and-soccer family, Novak knew tennis was his game early on. Young Djokovic started playing when he was just 4 years old, and 2 years later, he caught the attention of Yugoslavian tennis legend Jelena Gencic while at his parents’ sports complex. Gencic mentored Djokovic for the next 6 years. During this period, the war in former Yugoslavia and Belgrade bombings forced Djokovic and his family to shelter nightly in their basement for nearly three months — hard times, he said, made him determined to excel.

Novak’s international career began in 2001, and it’s been thrilling to watch ever since. With his record for the most weeks at No.1, the Nadal-Djokovic rivalry, and his recent surprise loss at Luca Nardi’s racket, Djokovic remains one of the most interesting and dominant players in tennis history.

See the pro in action in our Novak Djokovic collection.

Djokovic Plays Down Wrist Concerns, Alcaraz Has Serb In Sights For Austral.. Video by Reuters

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