processing of the Channel 9&10 News film by Jen Bentley

This summer consisted of the continued processing of the Channel 9&10 News film collection at the Clarke Historical Library. We have, as of August of this year, processed over 100,000 feet of film since I began working the project in the Fall of 2015. Along the way the Clarke was able to obtain two mint condition 16mm slim slot load projectors- destined for the CMU resale- but saved by Marian in the nick of time! Being able to view the films adds to the interpretation of the films so that the documentary evidence is accessible and findable by future researchers. The collection itself is comprised of several series, but the summer was consumed with tackling the bulk of the news segment series called “Alpha-Date.” This series encompasses news footage of northern Michigan from 1970-1982, which leads to some surprising discoveries of footage that I am so excited to share here!
old housing in brown boxes, new housing in blue film canisters that allow off-gassing and breathing of film
If there was a single film that sticks out to me as being a key piece within the Channel 9&10 news reel collection is that of a film entitled, “Boyne City Rally with Irene McCabe.” I was shocked that we had this film in the collection, as McCabe’s protestations against desegregation are iconic and speak to the burgeoning backlash against civil rights legislation. This film, while films in Northern Michigan, Irene’s footage of her speaking engagement and rally hold national appeal as well.
Another film that I was excited to process within the 9&10 collection is one entitled, “Computer Education,” from 1973. In this film, high school students are featured on early DOT Matrix coding sheets, learning computer programming. Several pieces of vintage technology are featured and most specifically, wooden coding blocks and punch cards. IBM offices and manager are featured and what is exciting in this segment of footage, the size of early computer that take up the footprints of entire rooms. What is even more surprising is that the instructors featured are all female and this goes to prove that women in STEM made an impact, even in the early 1970s in northern Michigan.
a badly warped, damaged film
Finally, something needs to be said of the specific nature of the bulk of films that speaks to an entirely unique lifeway of the residents in northern Michigan. Much of this collection processed over the summer features the formation of our famous Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Senator Philip Hart (D-MI) is featured within the footage associated with the Sleeping Bear Dunes, as he was passionate about the formation of the national park, “in perpetuity.” Also, I could not speak about all the footage that is continually uncovered of the “Au Sable River Canoe Marathon.” This is a northern Michigan tradition that continues to this day, which has produced a decidedly mid-western enthusiast following. The collected footage of every race from 1970-82 is a fascinating look into a cultural tradition whose coverage becomes more in depth as the years go on. Truly, these are the segments within the series that I get excited about because they are jovial depictions of our northern way of life.
Overall, this is a dynamic collection and it is extensive. So far this summer (since May) we have processed, cored, and re-housed over 50,000 feet of 16mm film. The summer has ended roughly two weeks ago, but this begins a new academic year and several more months of film processing time, so who know yet what is to be found! I hope in the next few months we will find the KISS Rock Band footage that is said to exist within the 9&10 film collection.


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