Saving History: Preserving recordings in the University of Mississippi's Modern Political Archive
The Modern Political Archives at the University of Mississippi contains over 3,800 audio and audiovisual recordings among its holdings. Formats include audio reel-to-reels, 78 rpm discs, 16 millimeter and 35 millimeter films, Umatic ¾ inch tapes, Beta tapes, VHS tapes, microcassette and cassette tapes, DVDs and CDs, as well as MP3 audio files. For decades, most of these recordings were inaccessible to researchers due to condition and the lack of appropriate equipment.
In 2010, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded the Modern Political Archives a $450,000 grant to preserve and digitize these recordings.
Researchers are the true beneficiaries of this project. Conservation measures will prolong the lifespan of the recordings and new digital conversions offer user-friendly access to this treasure trove of Mississippi and American political history. Many of these collections represent the public careers of Mississippians who served in the U.S. Congress or the state legislature. Other collections contain oral histories on the politics of Mississippi, the South, and the nation.
Over the course of one year from June 2010 to May 2011, the Modern Political Archives worked with the university’s Media & Documentary Projects to produce digital copies of all analog recordings. Archives staff then reviewed recordings in open collections to create extensive descriptions of their content. The grant also provided the necessary supplies and equipment to help preserve the originals as well as their digital counterparts, and it enhanced the archives’ ability to provide researchers with internet access to the recordings and their descriptions.
McWhite, Leigh; Ginn, Micah; Wilkie, Curtis; Mullins (1948-), Andrew P.; McKnight, Stephanie; Batey, Rebecca; and University of Mississippi. Media and Documentary Projects, "Saving History: Preserving recordings in the University of Mississippi's Modern Political Archive" (2011). Library Publications. 9.