DIVA: Bay Area Television Archive

I’m Alex Cherian. I’m the film archivist at
San Francisco State University. The J Paul Leonard Library has a department
of special collections. We preserve over four thousand hours of news film and
documentary material that was produced in the bay area from the 1950s through to about 1980. We’re digitizing this material and making
it available to view online for free in DIVA. [music] [music] Like you’re a detective. You use special collections, you look at the DIVA footage. You’re able to make your own conclusions. You join that with good scholarship and I
think you have a more holistic view of what actually occurred. I came across a surprising and unusual link,
which was to Art in Action a film clip in the collection of San
Francisco State University’s DIVA digital archive that I was unaware of
and I clicked on it and was shocked as this live, very beautiful color imagery
of Diego Rivera on the scaffolding appeared but as you watch the footage you see
many other people appear. We see an image of the artist Miné Okubo doing a demonstration about fresco
technique. When I saw this clip, I knew Miné Okubo personally as a very
old woman just before her death because we’ve done a lot of research about
Asian American artists here at San Francisco State. She was a salty woman
in her old age and here she is in bright yellow pants. And I thought that is Miné Okubo. What historians can do when they’re using
our collection is bring these not new voices but remind people
of the voices that were common place back in the day and DIVA is allowing them to do that. There are thousands of unique voices within the archive and in that sense what we’re presenting you through DIVA is with a living history. It gives us another perspective on
multiculturalism in America to see so many artists of diverse ethnicities
working together in 1939 in San Francisco. San Francisco in the 1950s,
60s and 70s was a hotbed of civil rights movements. It was one of the birth places for the
gay and lesbian civil rights movements, the local Oakland Black Panther chapter was very active in the
1960s. In June 1971, Native Americans were removed from Alcatraz by federal agents. They’d been occupying the rock for
eighteen months trying to bring world attention to the civil rights needs of Native American people. A few months later, KRON-TV made a
documentary about the Native American Occupation of Alcatraz and its aftermath. And we looked at these clips and it was so exciting to see history unfolding. Over the years Alcatraz has come to signify a lot of stuff to a
lot of people. There’s a whole lot of the Native American activists out there doing their thing and I think a lot of that came from Alcatraz but it wasn’t like you know we did it. It was just an idea. In the name of all Indians therefore we reclaim this island for all Indian nations for all these reasons. We feel this claim is just and proper and
that this land should rightfully be granted to us for as long as the rivers shall run and the sun shall shine. Signed Indians from all tribes, November 1969, San Francisco, California. This visibility through primary sources that people can
relate to is essential not only for scholarship but also for the promotion of human rights. In 1899, one of the world’s first film archivists who was the photographer for Czar Nicholas II, commented on the cinemagraphic print.
He said that it makes the dead and the absent stand up and walk. And that is the essence of using film as
a historical resource. People can see and hear what is
happening and imagine what it was like at the time. It hits them on a gut level and it allows them to interact with what
might otherwise be cold and distant material.

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