Monday, January 21, 2013

"Archives support "pure" research, of course, and this usefulness cannot be overlooked. Those who search the past for understanding the present find in archives the raw materials with which to construct their narratives and analyses."
-Anastasia Weigle

This is from my first week's lecture in my class on archives & preservation, and it perfectly sums up why I love archives. No matter what corporation the papers belong to, the profession is not dedicated to writing history but recording it. It makes me want to hug every single person at my archives Meetup and bake them a pie.

On Thursday, my supervisor Glenn handed me several folders old papers regarding individual shows that had been on air in the 1980s. One of them was entitled 'World Without Walls', a documentary about the life of Beryl Markham. My mother had read her memoir aloud to my sisters and me as children, and certain characters from the book became household names. Bombafu made appearances on white boards throughout the house as my sister Anna would artistically render the foolhardy parrot in erasable marker. The papers contained in the folder consisted of memos and letters back and forth about the time slot, the topic, and one note in which someone remarked about the joyful surprise of seeing the exceptional overnight ratings. Further notes suggesting airing more showings were followed by a newspaper clipping advertising the showtimes and West With the Night.

The rest of the folders contained information on other documentaries from the same time period, but this one captured my interest. The notes showed individual's responses to the material and gave insight to the relationships between the producers and the network at the time. Maybe someday a historian will want to see how Markham continued to be perceived after her death, or see how her documentary was received by the public. These papers will provide that, and my internship will be to that end.

YAY for meaningful productivity!

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