Magnetic media

Report from Archives 2015: SAA in Cleveland

by Jolene M. Beiser, Project Archivist


Greetings! I recently returned to Los Angeles after a trip to Cleveland for the Society of American Archivists 2015 Annual Meeting. This trip and conference was an opportunity to let other archivists know about the important work we’re doing here at Pacifica to preserve women’s history, and to find out more about similar undertakings at other institutions.

My first two stops were the Recorded Sound Roundtable and Women’s Collections Roundtable meetings. At the Recorded Sound meeting we learned about the state of the initiatives having to do with Audiovisual Archives collections, including the publication of the ARSC Manual and the upcoming AMIA conference in Portland, OR. We also discussed initiatives the Roundtable might want to undertake during the 2015-2016 year, trainings seeming to be the most popular idea. I announced at the Women’s Collections Roundtable that we are almost finished with the American Women project (!!) and received enthusiastic interest and encouragement. Postcards announcing the project were also made available at the conference.

postcardfrontpostcard back

On Thursday afternoon I presented with Carrie Daniels, Director of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Louisville, Aaron Rosenblum, Associate Curator of Special Collections at The Filson Historical Society, and Josh Ranger of A/V Preserve on the topic “Can I Trash This? Managing Physical Media Collections Post-digitization“. We had an energetic conversation about the special needs of audiovisual materials and why institutions choose to hold on to the analog materials once they’ve already been digitized, especially in light of their short (10-15 year) future lifespan. I talked about how as a result of the American Women project, we now have a plan to store digital preservation masters at the California Digital Library, Internet Archive, and in house, and are shipping the master tapes to the University of Maryland for long-term safekeeping. This will allow more room in our in-house vault for finding, digitally preserving, and making accessible more gems from our collection.

The conference allowed for more connections with Women’s collections archivists who can spread the word about the American Women collection to scholars and researchers at their institutions, and with audiovisual archivists with whom we are sharing ideas and best practices for preserving and sharing our collections.

Thank you to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission for their support of this great project.



April update


Edgar, prepping the boxes for shipment.

by Jolene M. Beiser, Project Archivist

We are two-thirds of the way through this incredible project, having digitized 1,275 recordings out of the 1,700 to be digitized. Or final batch of 425 tapes have arrived at George Blood, LP in Philadephia, PA and are being cooled down prior to digitization due to extensive sticky-shed syndrome found in the batch, a common problem found in 1/4 inch reel-to-reel tapes from this time period (late 70s-early 80s).

Preparing this batch before shipping was also a rough go, which is why we jokingly referred to it as “BARTCH 4”. It contains hundreds of recordings that had little-to-no descriptive information in their records nor on their box labels, many of them requiring new descriptive records altogether. We are ever grateful for the funding from NHPRC to preserve this batch because there are so many gems that could have been lost without this project! Some highlights include: Black Ms. America, Eleanor Smeal announces the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and numerous Women’s music festivals and concert recordings. We’re looking forward to getting these digital files back and listening to them in June!


nhprc-logo-jpeg            george blood

Batch 3 on it’s way to being digitized

by Jolene M. Beiser, Project Archivist

Four hundred and twenty-five more tapes are on their way to George Blood, LP in Philadelphia PA for digitization! 1,200 hundred down, 425 more to go!

American Women Batch 1–Tape Condition Assessments

by Jolene Beiser, Project Archivist

This project is really happening! This month we worked furiously on assessing the condition of our first batch of tapes to be digitized. This group includes 425 1/4 inch reel-to-reel recordings broadcast on KPFA-Berkeley, CA and WBAI-New York, NY between 1963 and 1982 related to women and the American Women’s movement. With 5 assessors–Project Director, Brian DeShazor; Project Coordinator, Adi Gevins, and Pacifica Radio Archives staff Mark Torres, Edgar Toledo and Joe Gallucci doing 20 assessments and re-housing (as needed) per day, we finished in 4 days! Project Archivist Jolene Beiser kept busy scanning the box labels and keeping the assessment machine running.

Along the way we found some tapes that really needed help–many had become un-wound or the tape pack had slipped making transfer to a new box very tricky. Several had to be put on our Pacifica tape machines to be re-wound before boxing and shipping. We also found many gems, hand-written notes to producers and broadcasters about sensitive language, comments about the programs, and sometimes comments about the station and listeners! About two-thirds of the tapes required re-housing in new boxes. All of the box labels were scanned and the images will appear in the recording records at

We’re so grateful to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission for the funding to re-house and re-format these tapes through digitization at at George Blood, LP in Philadelphia, PA. You can tell these tapes really needed help!

See more about the project at:


nhprc-logo-jpeg                                                     george blood