Collections: Moving Images and Sound Recordings
Posted On: 10/06/2017 - 12:29pm, Posted By: Jim DaMico, Curator of Audio-Visual Collection
The Moving Image Section is part of the Audiovisual Department which consists of the photograph collections, prints and posters, postcards, moving image and sound recording collections.
Moving images and sound recordings are unique primary historical resources that document a broad spectrum of subjects including aspects of our political, social, cultural, and artistic life. Collections of moving images and sound recordings are increasingly valuable to a wide range of researchers, including the scholarly community, students, casual researchers, news media, film and television production companies, and business and industry. These collections also preserve the local visual heritage, in particular, television news, educational and entertainment programming, as well as home movies and corporate productions. These resources have great educational potential.
Prior to 1983, The Cincinnati History Library and Archives, (formerly Cincinnati Historical Society Library), passively acquired moving image material mostly in the form of 8mm and 16mm films that came with donations to the Archives and Manuscripts Department. At the time, there was not enough of this material to constitute a separate collection area nor were there resources/technical expertise to adequately process and preserve the material.
In 1983, an agreement was negotiated between WLWT and the Historical Society for the transfer of historical moving image material produced by the television station. The acceptance of the WLWT’s 7,200 16mm film cans and numerous videotapes, in practical terms, marks the beginning of the Moving Image and Sound Recordings Collection and the Broadcast Archives.
Moving Images – Film
The collection today (2010) consists of approximately 6 million feet of 8mm, 16mm and 35mm motion picture film, and approximately 3,000 videotapes. The bulk of the collection is news footage shot between 1959 and 1980 from local television stations including WLW-TV, WKRC-TV, WCPO-TV, WXIX and the local educational station CET. About half of the footage is black & white, and about half color. Also in the collection are television kinescopes, newsreels, documentaries, public affairs programming, television commercials, amateur, industrial, promotional, propaganda, educational, and training films. A few short commercially produced feature films and cartoons and a much smaller collection of 8mm film, mostly home movies, are also part of the collection.
Moving Images – Video
The bulk of the approximately 3,000 video recordings in the collection are local television programming dating from the 1960s to the present. Various formats are represented including 2” quad, ¾” U-matic, 1”, S-VHS, Betacam, VHS, and laser disks.
The collection consists of about 4,000 recordings, the bulk of which are 16” radio transcription disks from the 1930s and 1940s. There are also other formats ranging from 45 and 33 1/3 rpm records and ¼” magnetic analog tape to modern digital audiotape and compact disks. There are no recordings on earlier sound recording formats such as tinfoil and wax cylinders, except as artifacts in the History Objects Collection. There are no wire recordings in the collection, but there are a small number of paper disks recorded on home equipment in the 1930s and 1940s.
Most of the recordings are of radio programming that was collected in the 1980’s and 1990s. There are also approximately 200 oral histories, 200 recorded speeches and numerous commercial recordings (music, documentaries and sound effects) and home recordings.