personal archiving

Without institutional support, without worrying about legality, she just…. archived for posterity.

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.

…There weren’t any provisions for the tape collection in Stokes’s will, but anyone who knew her knew she wanted them to be used as an archive. She had been born at the beginning of the Great Depression, and like many people of her generation, saved a lot of things. Scattered throughout the family’s various properties, she had stored a half-century of newspapers and 192 Macintosh computers. But the tapes were special. “I think my mother considered this her legacy,” Metelits says.

The Incredible Story Of Marion Stokes, Who Single-handedly Taped 35 Years Of Tv News
from 1977 To 2012, She Recorded 140,000 Vhs Tapes Worth Of History. Now The Internet Archive Has A Plan To Make Them Public And Searchable. Sarah Kessler. 

Another article I was alerted to on HackerNews.  I’ve noticed that the audience on HackerNews is very interested in library-and-archive type issues (whether involving actual libraries and archives or not, but frequently so), as well as generally quite supportive of actual libraries, archives, librarians, and archivists. I worry some of the support is more nostalgic than anything else, or maybe aspirational is a better way to think of it, supportive of what libraries and librarians could be doing.  (Not to take away from the awesome stuff the Internet Archive is doing).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s