Fascinating Secret Collections Unearthed

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The VHS collection of Marion Stokes

Late social justice advocate and Philadelphia librarian Marion Stokes spent the better part of her life recording television news and local public access programs 24-hours a day. Her collection numbers more than 800,000 uninterrupted hours of footage, documented on more than 140,000 VHS and Betamax tapes. Stokes would fire up as many as eight VCRs at one time, swapping tapes every six hours (often waking up in the middle of the night to change them). Her son Michael Metelits said Stokes had a “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.” Sure enough, the folks at the Internet Archive have been slowly converting Stokes’ massive collection into a digital, searchable archive available to the public. You can start exploring the beginnings of it over here.