TV Channel Donates Thousands of Items to Alabama Archives | Alabama News

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP) – A television station has donated thousands of items, including historical footage from the Civil Rights Era, to the Alabama Department of Archives and History, which will put the material available to the public.

WSFA-TV in Montgomery reported that it had given the agency documents dating back to the 1950s, including footage from press conferences of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Freedom Riders coverage in 1961, and an original film. of “Stand in the School House Porte” by the then government. George C. Wallace in 1963.

The video also includes scenes from a visit to the NASA center in Huntsville by President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson in 1962 and special reports on the death of the former football coach of the University of Alabama, Paul “Bear” Bryant in 1983.

As the TV station planned to relocate, officials determined it was impractical to move large numbers of delicate film reels and boxes full of videos and other items.

Steve Murray, the director of archives, said archivists have long suspected that the WSFA studios held valuable content for historical preservation, and his department jumped at the opportunity to add to its collection when a call phone line arrived at the end of 2019.

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“It was one of those scary moments… where the hair stands on the back of your neck when you see those closets after closets of tapes and movies,” Murray explained. “Just taking something out of the business and seeing a label… related to the civil rights movement or other major public events and the life and history of Alabama really made you appreciate the value of what was there. “

The donation includes more than 7,000 audiovisual items in a variety of formats, as well as albums from WSFA-TV, photographs, negatives, correspondence with viewers and managers, and newsletters.

“We’re intimidated by this collection, to be honest with you, because it’s huge,” said Meredith McDonough, director of digital assets for archives and history, “and because it looks like nothing from what we have. “

Under the terms of the donation agreement, the department will use the materials to benefit state citizens through museum exhibits, K-12 classrooms, and other educational products. WSFA-TV will be able to broadcast and publish the content of the collection after digitization.

The agency deals with “trial batches” of films and it will take years to fully process the boxes. So far, around 15 hours of film has been digitized, which is only 30 pieces in the collection.

No payment was made for the collection, WSFA-TV reported.

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