The National Historical Publications and Records Commission funded conservation work on 1.5 million feet of 16mm television film and 2,260 videotapes. The Maine Television Collections Project was launched in the summer of 2000 with the hiring of Russ Van Arsdale, a former Maine broadcast journalist, as a project technician. Dwight Swanson, Andrea McCarty, and Liz Coffey assessed the condition of the films and made repairs so they could be transferred to preservation masters and reference videotapes.
“We have a lot of reels where they used masking tape and Scotch tape…” reported Dwight Swanson. Another challenge: what to do with some 300 tapes recorded on 2-inch videotape, an obsolete format. Most of the tapes contain 30- to 60-minute programs produced by Maine Public Broadcasting, among them features on Acadian music, Maine Indian tribes, and back-to-the-land pioneers Helen and Scott Nearing, had not been seen since the 1970s. “There are no 2-inch machines needed to view them in Maine,” Swanson said. The archivists did find one of the mammoth 2-inch quad machines at Vermont Educational Television.
NHF’s effort paralleled a national initiative organized by the Association of Moving Image Archivists and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The initiative, Preserving Local Television, aimed to implement a strategy for preserving and providing access to the American local television heritage.
650,000’ of 16mm film from 1953 to 1974
500 videotapes (1”, 3/4”, Beta) from 1988 to 1997
180,600’ 16mm film
339 videotapes (2”, 1”, 3/4”, VHS) from 1956 to 1989
606,700’ 16mm film
766 videotapes (2”, 3/4”, Betacam SP, VHS) from 1970 to 1993
Maine Public Broadcasting (Lewiston)
86,070’ 16mm film
1029 videotapes (2”, 1”, 3/4”) from 1964 to 1995
WGME / WGAN (Portland)
250,000’ 16mm film from 1955 to 1973
WAGM (Presque Isle)
105,000’ 16mm film from 1970 to 1992
126 videotapes (3/4”) from 1985 to 1996
TV Collections info adapted from an article by Virginia Wright.