San Francisco State Bay Area Television Archive Is a Treasure Trove of History on Film — and Streaming Online
Students can license historical footage for their own work for free, while most filmmakers must pay to do so
When filmmakers want access to historical footage of the Bay Area’s past, they turn to San Francisco State University, home to a massive and unique archive of local television news-film and documentaries from the 20th century. While Academy Award-winning films such as “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Milk” and “O.J.: Made in America” paid market rate to license the footage, San Francisco State students may do so for their own work at no cost.
Based in the J. Paul Leonard Library on campus, the Bay Area Television Archive features more than 135,000 videos from Bay Area television stations. A visit to the new Bay Area Television Archive website is a YouTube-like rabbit hole of a time machine dedicated to the issues and events that gripped the region decades ago.
The original daily news coverage allows one to learn how major events unfolded and how communities responded when the word was spread. Curated collections feature the civil rights movement (including the Third World Liberation Front student strike at SF State), the Zodiac Killer, 1970s adult entertainment, old-school hip hop and much more. One can watch speeches by Martin Luther King and Maya Angelou’s entire KQED-TV series “Blacks, Blues, Black” from 1968 — rediscovered and restored by Alex Cherian, the Bay Area television archivist on staff, after not having been seen for decades.
Footage from the archive has been used in more than 1,000 documentary, television and community projects in the last 15 years, with dozens more coming out every year.
Film scanning equipment, funded by a donation from the Friends of the J. Paul Leonard Library, digitizes footage into 4K resolution.
To inquire about licensing footage from the Bay Area Television Archive, visit the Using the Collections page or contact archivist Alex Cherian.
You can read more in an article by Matt Itelson published in the San Francisco State University web site at: https://news.sfsu.edu/news/sf-state-bay-area-television-archive-treasure-trove-history-film-and-streaming-online .