There’s also a history of Dallas told through the lens of TV journalists.
Curator Spracklen and Scott Martin, who has a master’s degree from the SMU film school, upload four items every day: a full roll from exactly 50 years ago, a KERA clip and a WFAA clip, then either another KERA clip or something from another collection.
Their biggest YouTube sensation is a film of Jimi Hendrix arriving at Love Field in April 1969, which has almost 363,000 views. Footage of a 1974 baseball fight between the Texas Rangers and Cleveland has over 166,000 views.
Previously unseen footage of Martin Luther King Jr., uploaded four years ago, and a 1970s profile on journalist Bob Ray Sanders, uncovered this year, are among the team’s favorite finds. And they say this daily time travel can be rewarding.
“We’ve heard from people who say, ‘This is my grandfather, and I’d never heard his voice before,’” Martin says.
Spracklen and Martin have become experts on Dallas history by osmosis.
“It’s cyclical,” Martin says. “And we were dealing with some of the issues in 1970 that we’re dealing with now.”
The KERA, channel 13, archive offers a history of video formats, which arrived neatly organized. Digitization of that collection began about two years ago. Their stories from the 1970s dive a little deeper into topics like poverty and politics in Dallas.
The WFAA, channel 8, film archives came in cans that were sometimes accurately labeled. Uploads of those have been ongoing since about 2015, and they contain work from former local reporters Tracy Rowlett and Bill O’Reilly.
The vault also holds the KDFW, channel 4, archive. Those were stored uncarefully and are not well cataloged. The team expects to take years to restore and upload them, a project they haven’t yet begun.
In the first step of digitization, Martin uploads a 16-mm film, for example, onto a reel-to-reel device. He feels for the splices and determines if they will hold, or if he needs to restore them.
If not, the archive has a machine that will play the film and digitize it. Martin then works on adding metadata to YouTube as well as the analog film.