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Tools & Resources

Swords, Airplanes, and Cartoons – A Big Collection of Free Sound Effects

The Internet Archive’s USC Optical Sound Effects Library is a collection of hundreds of sound effect recordings created for Hollywood studios in the beginning in the 1930’s through the 1980’s. The recordings were donated to USC and have now been digitized for playback and download on the Internet Archive. 

The Internet Archive’s USC Optical Sound Effects Library has three collections within it. The Gold and Red Libraries are comprised of sound effects created in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The Sunset Editorial Library has sound effect recordings made from the 1930’s through the 1980’s.

As you look through the Internet Archive’s USC Optical Sound Effects Library you will find sound effects for things like classic cartoon noises (boing! pow!), swords clashing (classic swashbuckler movie sounds), voices of crowds, and airplanes taking off and flying through the sky. 

All of the recordings in the library are short. Some are introduced by a speaker while others are not. The ones that have an introduction you could still use if you download the MP3 and then make a quick edit to remove the introduction. 

Applications for Education
I’ve long said that the best was to make sure you don’t accidentally commit a copyright infringement is to use your own original audio recordings. When that’s not practical or possible, then use audio files that are in the public domain or are Creative Commons licensed. The Internet Archive’s USC Optical Sound Effects Library could be a good source of free sound effects for your students’ next video project or podcast project. 

For more modern sound effects, check out the resources that I featured here

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