In 1967, WSYR issued the following message, an interruption to their scheduled broadcast:
Much like the famed Orson Welles’ “The War of the Worlds” Halloween broadcast of 1938, this warning was merely a test and did not reflect an actual state of emergency. In both cases, raising the alarm, even a false alarm, however, incited people to pay attention and take notice in a way that they might not have otherwise.
Archives are often seen as a means of freezing time, of trapping or preserving materials in amber, of extending the life of dusty books and records for eternity. In reality, though, there is a ticking clock counting down the amount of time left every time you enter an archive. You can only hear it faintly, because, for many records, it exists in a time that still seems far in the distance. But you cannot turn back the clock, because more time is not guaranteed for archival materials without proper preservation.
If you are looking for an example of such an occurrence, look no further than the deteriorated photographs of Chester Rice from our Clara E. Sipprell Papers. Although we can still view the subject of these photographs, some negatives in the collection, have deteriorated past the point of usability.
Proper storage, care, and digitization can all be effective means of prolonging a document’s existence. If SCRC had not collected and digitized the WSYR recordings of over 50 years of local history (1930-1981), or made efforts to preserve the Sipprell photographs, a larger amount of this history may have gone unheard and unseen.
Read on as Digital Preservation and Projects Coordinator Michael Dermody speaks to the importance of preserving the audiovisual heritage in the archive:
In this series, we will be “counting down” by exploring some of the many valuable and vulnerable collection materials at SCRC in need of preservation. From audio materials, like the WSYR Collection, the Belfer Cylinders Collection, and the E. Thomas Billiard Papers, to video and film collections, like the Ted Koppel Collection, Inside Albany Records, Erica Anderson Collection and university archives films, to photography collections, like the Margaret Bourke-White Papers, the Clara E. Sipprell Papers, and the Jackie Martin Papers, the Archives Preservation Countdown begins today!
This post features an audio clip and image from our WSYR Collection (WSYR Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries) and images from our Clara E. Sipprell Papers (Clara E. Sipprell Papers, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries), part of the Special Collections Research Center’s manuscript collections.