This week libraries and archives nationwide celebrate Preservation Week, highlighting the great conservation, preservation and migration work that is necessary to keep our cultural heritage materials alive and accessible for our users.

Here at the WGBH Media Library and Archives, we are using the opportunity to review some of the materials we have been able to save over the past year, with generous support from several grant funded projects:

For the Vietnam Project, funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services:
This project focused on the Vietnam: A Television History collection from which we reconstructed and transferred over 360 hours of film recordings. The 360 hours represent original footage filmed in Vietnam shortly after the war, stock footage gathered for the series, and 270 unique interviews conducted by the filmmakers. The reconstructed interviews include soldiers on both sides of the conflict, as well as leaders such as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Vietnamese premier Pham Van Dong, and recently deceased “first lady” Madame Nhu. The entire collection is accessible on Open Vault at

For the American Archive Pilot Project, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting:
This project focused on cataloging, transferring and digitizing materials related to the Civil Rights Movement. Highlights from this collection include original broadcasts from Mississippi Freedom Summer, 1964 and interviews with Malcolm X, James Baldwin and Martin Luther King, Jr. All told, we preserved over 41 hours of television material and 109 hours of radio for this project. Rights permitting, we are working to make these newly preserved materials accessible.

For the March on Washington Project, from WGBH Radio, funded by the Save America’s Treasures program:
As part of the Educational Radio Network, WGBH broadcast over 15 hours of live coverage of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, D.C. This collection includes not only Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech, but also interviews with marchers, commentary by journalists, and recordings of musical performances heard that day. This material was preserved from 1/4″ audio tape to digital audio files.

For the Boston Symphony Orchestra Charles Munch DVD release:
40 original 2” videotape broadcast masters, spanning the years 1957-1980, were reformatted and preserved as an initial step toward commercially releasing DVDs of legacy full-length Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts featuring conductor Charles Munch.

For the Boston Pops retrospective project:
As part of a celebration of the anniversary of the Boston Pops Orchestra, a televised retrospective of the program Evening at Pops incorporated material from 6 newly preserved 2” videotape broadcast masters. These tapes, unseen since their initial broadcast in the 1970s, included performances by Marion Anderson, Roberta Flack, Glen Campbell, and one of the first ever concerts to utilize Moog musical synthesizers.

For our “Radio Highlights” project:
Collection gems such as Dancing Disco (1979), James Brown in Concert (1968), and Zoom (1972) were transferred from obsolete formats and digitized for this project and then, through the great work of WGBH Radio and Producer Elizabeth Deane, re-purposed into interstitial messaging for our radio stations!

In addition, here at WGBH, we regularly ingest born digital and digitized materials into our Digital Asset Management system which stores and replicates the files across several systems. In this way we have multiple copies available, should one file be corrupted or lost. In the past year alone we have ingested into the system over 4000 video files, 7000 electronic documents, 600 audio files, and over 32,000 images. We expect these numbers to increase greatly in the coming years as current productions like FRONTLINE, Antiques Roadshow, The Callie Crossley Show, Greater Boston, and Teachers’ Domain continue to deliver their production archives digitally, and as other productions move to a “tapeless” digital workflow.



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