Unwritten Records

There’s a new exhibit in our gallery — “Unwritten Records: AV and data storage of the last half-century.”

The large magenta reel in the foreground is my favorite type of video tape -- 2-in. tape called "the Quad. Other examples of video are also in this image.

Our political donors have a lot of AV and data storage material upon leaving office. Why? Well…They appear on countless tv and radio programs. They debate their campaign opponents on air. They speak at important events. They hold press conferences. Some of these recordings make it to the archives, thankfully. Our collections would not be well-rounded without this type of material!

Floppies from different eras

Politicians also have to preserve their office records, as you might expect. They and their staffs save and back up important legislative memos, talking points, correspondence with constituents, and so on. Their political lives depend on it! Their legacies depend on it, as well. All of this means that their chosen archival repository will likely receive floppies, cds, dvds, data tape, external drives, etc.

Over the last several years, we’ve been collecting examples of AV and data storage from all our collections. When a new grad student employee joins us, we go through the box with them. Many times, they see materials they don’t recognize and so it’s become a learning tool for us. My favorite moment has been, “what are those?” in reaction to seeing VHS labels. mmmm….that made me feel old…at 32.

The exhibit should be up through April 2011.

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