Inside these boxes are enough videotapes to fill a Blockbuster. What’s on these tapes? Well, about 35 years of local and national news, recorded by Marion Stokes, a woman who spent nearly half her life recording the news in the belief that someday it would be useful. It probably isn’t very useful, but it was a pretty epic hobby.
These tapes will actually be incredibly useful. They contain hours of history that can be re-lived, instead of re-imagined, when viewed.
The San Francisco-based Internet Archive plans to digitize the tapes and make them available on their website for searching and viewing. Someday, in the not-too-distant future, you’ll be able to watch ABC News segments on the Iran hostage crisis — the event that launched Nightline. The live CNN video on the Challenger disaster. Little Jessica being rescued from the well. Nightly news segments on the fall of the Berlin wall.
The first Gulf War. The war in Bosnia. TWA 800. Clinton’s impeachment. The Florida “hanging chad” scandal. Hours of videotape on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. The entire war in Iraq as it played out on cable news. The start — and end — of the housing crisis that crippled economy. The election of the first black president.
Marion Stokes might have had an unusual hobby, but her hobby bore a priceless gift that now millions connected to the internet will be able to enjoy. I guess I’d expect nothing less from someone who was once a former librarian.