Friday, November 22, 2013

"The Incredible Story Of Marion Stokes, Who Single-Handedly Taped 35 Years Of TV News"

"In a storage unit somewhere in Philadelphia, 140,000 VHS tapes sit packed into four shipping containers. Most are hand-labeled with a date between 1977 and 2012, and if you pop one into a VCR you might see scenes from the Iranian Hostage Crisis, the Reagan Administration, or Hurricane Katrina."
It's 35 years of history through the lens of TV news, captured on a dwindling format.

It's also the life work of Marion Stokes, who built an archive of network, local, and cable news, in her home, one tape at a time, recording every major (and trivial) news event until the day she died in 2012 at the age of 83 of lung disease.

Stokes was a former librarian who for two years co-produced a local television show with her then-future husband, John Stokes Jr. She also was engaged in civil rights issues, helping organize buses to the 1963 civil rights march on Washington, among other efforts. She began casually recording television in 1977. She taped lots of things, but she thought news was especially important, and when cable transformed it into a 24-hour affair, she began recording MSNBC, Fox, CNN, CSNBC, and CSPAN around the clock by running as many as eight television recorders at a time.
The collection will become available online, or, so it has been promised.
The Internet Archive does want to make a television news archive available for instant search online. But it can’t simply borrow content from some place like Vanderbilt. It relies on donations for content recorded before 2000. So Macdonald agreed to accept, digitize and index Stokes’s archive.


Eric the Fruit Bat said...

It used to be that "incredible story" and "single-handedly" were reserved for things like some guy rescuing a bunch of kids from a rampaging grizzly bear.

Lem the misspeller said...

Amoung other things, hopefully this archive will show that evolution Eric is mentioning. At least the broadcast evolution.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Chairman Minow's "vast wasteland" speech sounds quaint by modern standards.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I just told my wife about the stash of old news shows.

She said, "I'd like to see the one where the storm cloud with the lightening bolt falls on the weatherman."

She can be funny.

ndspinelli said...

Who the fuck has a VHS to play it back. I have thousands of surveillance video in my basement. I still have a couple VHS recorders but I have to be a distinct minority.

ndspinelli said...

I also has hours of VHS home videos that I copied onto DVD and gave to the family for Christmas a few years back. I have done surveillance in every format from 8mm to digital.

ampersand said...
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ampersand said...
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deborah said...

Listen. VHSs can gather mold in a moisture situation.

Bat. I'm glad for you.