Vinson Named Curator of KUHT Collection

Emily Vinson, audiovisual archivist at University of Houston Libraries Special Collections, has taken on new responsibilities as curator of the KUHT Collection.

Emily Vinson

Emily Vinson

Vinson will add collection development, outreach, and digital projects to her existing duties of preservation and cataloging the department’s vast AV collection, which comprises over 20,000 individual items. The KUHT Collection, having been built under the guidance of university archivist Mary Manning, currently encompasses over 2000 films and over 12,000 video assets, preserving the broadcast and production history of the nation’s first education, non-profit television station.

Please tell us about your experience with the AV archive.

I’ve been identifying the huge scope of formats that are included in the collection, some of which are at high risk of not being able to be played back and digitized. Beyond that, I’ve been facilitating digitization projects for the KUHT Collection and for AV items within other collections. Most have been driven by patron demand. We digitized 115 KUHT films from the 1950s-70s, which will be available at the UH Digital Library soon.

All of the formats are unique. We had one format called one-inch video, an open reel tape that can only be played back on a specific type of machine that isn’t produced anymore, and for machines that do still exist, there are no repair professionals to replace the playback heads. They’re extremely expensive and rare and beyond that the video itself is breaking down because those formats emerged in the 60s. The biggest things we’re fighting against are mechanical obsolescence of playback equipment and physical degradation of the assets. The challenge with video as opposed to film is that you can hold it up to a light and you can tell what’s on the film, but with video, you’re relying only on the label. It’s difficult to make preservation decisions if the labeling isn’t good. You can’t determine the value of the item.

What is your favorite item in the KUHT Collection?

My very favorite KUHT program that we have is a show called “People Are Taught to be Different.” It was produced by KUHT and Texas Southern University starting in 1956. It was created, written and narrated by professor Henry Allen Bullock. He wanted to do an instructional course on how human experience is the same for all, regardless of race. The series was groundbreaking at the time; the University of Houston was still essentially segregated, as was much of the South, and this show was distributed through the National Education Television network all over the country with an African American cast discussing the universality of emotion. There were twelve episodes produced and we have three of them that were digitized. The stories are told through interpretive dance and are very innovative and beautiful.

View online exhibit curated by Vinson: Dr. Richard I. Evans Psychology on Television

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Posted on July 28th, 2016 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements | Comments Off on Vinson Named Curator of KUHT Collection