The following post was written by Luke Moses, who worked this past summer full-time in the Langsdale Library Special Collections Department. Luke is currently a graduate student in NYU’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program.
This summer at Langsdale was my first time working in a university setting, and by far my most extensive hands-on experience with film inspection/repair and videotape digitization. Siobhan Hagan [Audiovisual Archivist for Langsdale] is an incredibly smart, talented, and resourceful archivist and I cannot thank her enough for her tutelage. Working with the collections of local television stations WMAR and WJZ was a fantastic experience, giving me a chance to dive in to Baltimore’s history. One of the last U-Matic tapes I digitized of WJZ’s Evening Magazine program is a perfect example of this, and can be seen in full here. Most episodes of Evening Magazine are fantastic (I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I refer to it as both a local and national treasure), but this episode from 1977 is particularly interesting. Highlights include a best-in-show cat competition and an explanation of punk music.
A fundamental goal of archiving is to preserve markers of specific times and places as historical evidence, and the modus operandi of Evening Magazine, which explored Baltimore with an impressive breadth, makes it a veritable goldmine of an archival collection. The utilization of the Internet Archive as both a preservation platform and access portal is a smart move for the University of Baltimore; in some cases I was able to digitize a tape and have it viewable online the next day. As just one small example of the remarkable range of the audiovisual collection, consider the juxtaposition of the intensely specific local stories of WJZ’s Evening Magazine with the raw news footage of WMAR (many hours of which are also accessible via the Internet Archive), and you can see how important an audiovisual collection can be in illuminating local history and culture on a truly sublime level.
Working with this collection over the summer was such a wonderfully immersive way to experience Baltimore, and I am really looking forward to seeing more of the collection as it continues to expand on the Internet Archive.