Celebrate World Day for Audiovisual Heritage


Move over, stone tablets and paper scrolls, there’s a new era of historical artifacts in town. Today is World Day for Audiovisual Heritage!

If you’ve ever been to the Reynolds Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, you’ll know that there’s no shortage of black and white film footage showing farmers and their old-school equipment. It’s places like this where people are often reminded of their own long forgotten home movies that, similar to the museum’s, show grandparents and relatives hard at work on the family farm.

When reminded of these audiovisual inheritances, a common question that springs to mind is whether there is somewhere that can transfer these films, videos and audio recordings into a digital format. To answer this question, yes there is, and that place is our very own Provincial Archives of Alberta!

Short history of Audiovisual Heritage in Alberta

With the constant evolution of technology, audiovisual material has wisely been recognized as a valuable addition to historical preservation. Audiovisual recordings can capture accurate living fragments of history and provide details that some textual and physical objects just don’t offer.

Since the introduction of film and audio media we’ve managed to capture a large part of our recent history in a way that was never possible before. In fact, the Provincial Archives houses 69,740 audiovisual artifacts including film, video and audio recordings, making it Alberta’s largest publicly held collection of unique audiovisual heritage artifacts.The Archives has been home to audiovisual media dating back as early as the 1920s and for over 50 years the Archives has gathered their collection through two primary means.

The first is through the Government of Alberta Records Management Program. These government collections are widely diverse in content, ranging anywhere from advertisements promoting Alberta’s tourism industry, to agricultural films used to educate Alberta farmers. The second method is through private donations. These donations aren’t always monumentally historic, but are sometimes simply the quintessential family home movie that captures the daily nuances of a by gone era.

One of the larger collections in the Provincial Archives is the CFRN News (currently CTV News) motion picture film collection. These films date back to the now archaic days before the use of digital recordings, when news on location was still recorded on 8mm film rolls. These film rolls would then be turned in for developing and editing, which was done by physically cutting and splicing sections of the film together.

The idea of cutting and splicing film to create a final moving image, for the younger crowd out there, is where the term “he/she was just a face on the cutting room floor” originates from. The Provincial Archives’ collection even includes some unedited news clips. Just imagine how many events, both noteworthy and mundane, have been captured over numerous years of filming.

So whatever it is that interests you, the PAA has something for everyone to indulge their inner A/V enthusiast. If you find yourself interested in checking out the Provincial Archives of Alberta this Audiovisual Heritage day, or just any other day, feel free to pay them a visit at 8555 Roper Road, Edmonton, Alberta or contact them by phone at 780-427-1750. Their doors are open between 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, open Wednesday until 9 p.m. and the staff will be happy to assist you on your stroll down memory lane.  Hope to see you there!


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