Television and History: Questioning the Archive

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This essay raises the question of the status of TV recordings as historical documents. Although it is perfectly legitimate to read old programs from the 1950s onwards as historic evidence of their times, this says nothing about the contribution of television itself to the historical process. To be concerned with the effect of television itself on the general historical process, calls for a different approach: one that focuses not so much on the content of programs as on how they are made and with what available technical resources. This essay explores the status of TV (and radio) archives as academic historical resources through a brief analysis of microphones (radio), cameras (TV) and recording devices (for both).

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Communication Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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