Friday, May 3, 2019

ArchivFieber, slight return - "The Remarkable Story of a Woman Who Preserved Over 30 Years of TV History"

via Atlas Obscura

"About 71,000 VHS and BETAMAX cassettes are sitting in boxes, stacked 50-to-a-pallet in the Internet Archive’s physical storage facility in Richmond, California, waiting to be digitized. The tapes are not in chronological order, or really any order at all. They got a little jumbled as they were transferred. First recorded in Marion Stokes’s home in the Barclay Condominiums in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, the tapes had been distributed among nine additional apartments she purchased solely for storage purposes during her life. Later, they passed on to her children, into storage, and finally to the California-based archive. Although no one knew it at the time, the recordings Stokes made from 1975 until her death in 2012 are the only comprehensive collection preserving this period in television media history.

"In 1975, Stokes got a Betamax magnetic videotape recorder and began recording bits of sitcoms, science documentaries, and political news coverage. From the outset of the Iran Hostage Crisis on November 4, 1979, “she hit record and she never stopped,” said her son Michael Metelits in Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project, a newly released documentary about his mother and the archival project that became her life’s work."

"Stokes was no stranger to television and its role in molding public opinion. An activist archivist, she had been a librarian with the Free Library of Philadelphia for nearly 20 years before being fired in the early 1960s, likely for her work as a Communist party organizer...."

"Roger Macdonald, director of the television archives at the Internet Archive....   recalls asking [Michael] Metelits, “How could you physically manage taping all this stuff? And he said, ‘Well, we’d be out at dinner and we’d have to rush home to swap tapes’ … that was one of the cycles of their lives, tape swapping.”

"In addition to her son Michael and her husband, Stokes’s nurse, secretary, driver, and step-children were enlisted to assist in her around-the-clock task of capturing every moment on television....

"Now, Stokes’s work will be made publicly available on the Internet Archives, bit by bit, offering everyone the opportunity to examine history..."

Calling Borges, or do I mean Benjamin....

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