Inside the Archives: What are you working on ? (3/2011)


The Ted Stevens Papers Project requires a team effort on the part of the faculty and staff of the Alaska and Polar Regions Collection of the Rasmuson Library where the Stevens Papers reside. This week we asked Dirk Tordoff, Film Archivist, “What are you working on?” Audio-Visual Media (A/V) Elements in the Ted Stevens Collection Motion picture film, video, and audiotape in the Ted Stevens collection tell the story of commercial and amateur broadcast in the latter half of the 20th century. Additionally, Stevens’ tenure paralleled the broadcast transition to, and refinement of, video. When Ted arrived in Washington, 16mm film and 2” Quad videotape were television broadcast standards. Recorded programs were most often delivered on Quad tape (hour-long reels weigh more than 20 lbs!) with news being recorded primarily on 16mm film. Senate and other official recording followed the trend, evolving to newer formats along with the broadcast industry. During the Senator’s first term, Quad tape was for the most part retired, having been eclipsed by ¾ inch U-Matic cartridges which also replaced 16mm film. These too, were eventually replaced by a variety of formats including Beta SP and eventually digital. The collection contains all of these, plus VHS, Betamax and other consumer formats. Making content available from such a wide variety of A/V elements presents an interesting and somewhat daunting challenge. Fortunately, the collection is well documented and has been in quality storage. Making new digital elements and cataloging content is a time-consuming process, but will be well worth the effort.