Marion Stokes Taped 35 Years Of TV News

When it became possible to record what was on our TVs at home, Marion Stokes was an early adopter. She taped a lot of things, but she was particularly drawn to the nightly newscasts. It became Stokes' personal mission to archive what happened in the world, and how TV told us about it. When 24-hour news channels launched, she taped multiple outlets, 24 hours a day.

She'd feed a six-hour tape into the recorders late at night. She'd wake up early the next day to change them (or conscript family members to do the same if she wasn't home). She'd cut short meals at restaurants to rush home before tapes ended. And when she got too old to keep up, she trained a younger helper named Frank to run the various recording equipment.

But the majority of her days were structured around paying attention to and saving whatever was on the news. "Pretty much everything else took a back seat,” says her son, Michael Metelits. “It provided a certain rhythm to her life, and a certain amount of deep, deep conviction that this stuff was going to be useful. That somehow, someone would find a way to index it, archive it, store it--that it would be useful.”

Stokes kept taping until she died in 2012. She left behind 140,000 VHS tapes, which came to the attention of Roger McDonald, television librarian for the Internet Archive. The Archive has agreed to digitize and catalog all those tapes, which will take quite some time, but will eventually be a priceless resource. Read the story of Marion Stokes and her collection at Fast Company. -via mental_floss

(Image credit: Michael Metelits)


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