KAIT Newsfilm Digitization Project
In 1998, Arkansas State University’s Archives and Special Collections received 225 reels of 16mm news film from KAIT-TV in Jonesboro. Spanning the period from 1973 to 1980, these reels contain visual documentation of people, events, and locations throughout Northeast Arkansas. Since they arrived, their contents has largely been a mystery. Due to their fragile condition, very few of the reels have been viewed since they were originally aired. In order to better understand the contents of the material, and allow researchers and community members to finally access the film, the Archive undertook a pilot project to digitize a small sample of the reels. Thanks to generous donations from members of the community, we have transferred five reels to digital – generating 137 separate stories. From this sample we now have access to digital moving images that document events and movements such as the aftermath and recovery from the 1973 tornado that devastated a significant portion of Jonesboro; the continuing struggle for civil rights and affirmative action in Northeast Arkansas; immediate or potential environmental issues in Lawrence and Independence Counties; the impact of technology and government programs on agriculture; industrial recruitment initiatives in Mississippi County; informative street-scene footage shot in Caraway, Jonesboro, and Newark; and interviews recorded at Northeast Arkansas venues featuring significant individuals such as David Pryor, Jim Guy Tucker, Jimmie Lou Fisher, Jerry Bookout, and Carl R. Reng.
This website features a few highlights we discovered while reviewing the digitized material. If you are interested in viewing the rest of the material digitized during the pilot project, please contact the archive to arrange a visit. And be sure to check back for news on the progress of the project and more material as it becomes available!