Marion Stokes, who passed away in 2012, left behind 40,000 VHS and Betamax tapes in her Philadelphia home containing local and national news shows dating back to 1976.
Stokes believed that one day these broadcasts would be important, so she recorded everything, including the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, before the rise of the 24-hour news service.
Now the San Francisco-based noprofit the Internet Archive is digitizing her collection with the intention of making it available online for free.
Her son, Michael Metelits, contacted the nonprofit last fall. It’s well known for digitizing cultural artifacts like concerts, TV shows, books, and video.
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The first digitization uploaded is a talk show that Stokes and her husband John Stokes, Jr. produced in Philadelphia from 1968 to 1971 called “Input.”
“‘Input’ was a local Philadelphia panel discussion program, airing Sunday mornings on WCAU-TV10, at the time the local CBS Network affiliate, that ran from 1968 through early 1971,” the Archive says. “It was a groundbreaking series, featuring academics, community and religious leaders and artists from the Philadelphia area with a focus on social justice and progressive thinking.”
Stokes was an activist and the show discussed a myriad of social and political issues. The video below discussed violence, weapons, race and police brutality.
Metelits says he remembers many of the shows from his childhood. Seeing his mother appear on “Input” was an emotional experience for him, according to the Daily Dot.
“In one of the clips, she kind of walked on with a microphone to insert something she thought was being missed,” Metelits said. “She was a big personality, very charismatic, very forceful, very sure of her own capacity to contribute intellectually to any conversation. She was alarmingly intelligent. She had an eye for detail and an eye for the big picture.”
Trevor von Stein, one of the Internet Archive’s many volunteers, said the tapes are a history lesson for him.
“I found some unseen footage of people who were deeply involved in history,” von Stein told the Daily Dot. “From John E. Fryer, who later went on to be Dr. Anonymous at the APA convention, or William C. Davidon, who only this year was revealed posthumously be be the ringleader of the Citizen’s Commission to Investigate the FBI.”