You may know the Nebraska State Historical Society for its outstanding collections of photographs, manuscripts and public records, library materials or museum artifacts. But did you know that the Society also houses a large collection of audiovisual materials? Moving images and sound recordings of various formats take up a big chunk of our storage stacks, and their numbers are impressive; For example, we have over 22,000 reels of motion picture film, 10,000 videotapes, 6000 audio tapes and 500 audio discs – all about, or products of, Nebraska! That’s over 4000 viewing hours of film alone!
What makes audiovisuals special is that they can only be accessed by the machines that play them. So the Society keeps a stock of now-obsolete playback machines. And audiovisuals can be delicate, so in order to protect them we digitize them for public use. This is a big job – one that may never be complete. But little by little, we are creating a digital repository from our original audiovisuals.
How can you find out what treasures our audiovisual collections hold? Some information is now on-line, through our website’s collections search (see http://nebraskahistory.pastperfectonline.com/). And we’re adding more data all the time. But the best way is to contact our Curator of Audiovisual Collections, Paul Eisloeffel, who can scour the collections on your behalf and let you know if we have what you’re looking for. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Audiovisual Curator Paul Eisloeffel cares for NSHS's impressive collection of reels of motion picture film.