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Alert! Help George Go to AMIA!

September 24, 2014 Blog Comments Off

It has come to our attention that a young professional in the field of audiovisual archiving, George Gyesaw, has twice been denied a travel VISA by the US Embassy in Ghana, one that would allow him to attend the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) conference in Savannah, GA.  Mr. Gyesaw is scheduled to participate in the conference’s Poster Session on October 9th and 10th where he is presenting a work titled “Database Solutions for Archival Institutions in Ghana. “

His was a Section 214 (B) refusal, meaning he cannot prove he has “strong ties” to Ghana that would compel him to return. The consular asked him a handful of questions about his position at the University of Ghana and his reason for traveling to the US. He was denied when he stated he was not married and does not have children.  It is worth noting that his married travel companion, a colleague of his at the University of Ghana, was granted a VISA.

The consular’s denial of Mr. Gyesaw’s VISA is at best lazy and at worst discrimination. George has worked as a database administrator for the music and dance archive within the Institute for Africa Studies for over two years.  As evidenced by a recent article he wrote for the Audiovisual Preservation Exchange, he has proven himself committed to stewarding Ghana’s recorded music and dance history. He has an invested interest in returning to his country with the new knowledge, experiences, and connections he will acquire at the conference, able to better serve Ghana’s rich heritage.

We call upon our community of archivists and activists to out the US Embassy in Ghana for their discriminatory practices and to pressure the consular to reevaluate Mr. Gyesaw’s VISA application in accordance with the following protocols for determining a Section 214 (B):

“During the visa interview they [consular] look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors. In cases of younger applicants who may not have had an opportunity to form many ties, consular officers may look at the applicants specific intentions, family situations, and long-range plans and prospects within his or her country of residence. “– US Embassy, Section 214 (B)

What can you do?

One way you can help is by Tweeting this post using and using the @USEmbassyGhana handle, or RT from our own Twitter site:

Use @AMIAnet and #AMIA14 to alert the Association of Moving Image Archivists of the issue.

Stay tuned! We will keep you posted on our efforts.


Librarians and Archivists with Palestine Launches New Website and Solidarity Network

June 7, 2014 Blog No Comments

Orient House

In 2013, some good friends of ours went to Palestine to bear witness on the state’s libraries and archives after 66 years of  Israeli occupation. I was fortunate enough to attend their panel at the Radical Archives conference this past Spring and was haunted by their report. The presentation can be downloaded from Soundcloud:

The committee has documented their experiences in several publications, but now all our invited to join their team. 

From the press release:

“…we are excited to launch a broad-based network in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. Any self-defined information worker who agrees with our principles is invited to become a LAP member. Members can also join solidarity project working groups and contribute their skills to support access to information in and about Palestine.”

I just joined the network and so can you! Activist Archivists is looking forward to engaging directly with these ongoing efforts.

Direct Links:
Librarians and Archivists WITH Palestine:

Librarians and Archivists TO Palestine (the blog of the original delegation):




Event: Radical Archives Conference

April 11, 2014 Events No Comments

Spring has sprung finally here in New York where we suffered through one of the longest, hardest winters I have experienced in my 18 years as a resident. (Meanwhile, my friends from Ohio and Minnesota are playing the world’s smallest violin in my direction.)

ActArc is still active, but a bit beaten down by the schedules of our founding participants. In fact, due to a conflict I had to withdraw my presentation on alternative media collectives from the Radical Archives conference, hosted this weekend by the Asian/Pacific/American institute at NYU. This is a true regret on my part and I do hope folks will get to go as there are many people from the community archiving movement participating in different capacities. I myself will be there on Saturday as a volunteer doing some “creative note-taking.” I don’t really know what that means yet, but I’m hoping it involves Play Doh and perhaps cake.

The hosts have done a really terrific job of putting together the free conference and organizing it thematically. Do peruse the conference calendar and see what you can get too because if any thinking is going to be had on this activist archiving business it is going to be here. We recommend the following

Collecting Resistance, Archivists In/Of Movements (4/11, 1:50pm)
This is the panel I was originally participating in, but it still includes our friend Amy Roberts from the Occupy Wall Street Archives Working Group.

Archiving Palestine (4/12 10:50am)
Which includes Grace Lile of Witness, one of our collaborators.

And XFR STN exhibit

See the full schedule here and make sure to register following their instructions:




EVENT: Home Video Day, March 1st 2014!

February 12, 2014 Events Comments Off

The details are in, the enthusiasm is high, the volunteers are wrangled, and the day of action only two weeks away!  Read on for information on what it is and how you can participate.

What it is: 

Activist Archivists, DCTV, and Third World Newsreel have joined forces to bring you Home Video Day, the first public screening of personal media history devoted entirely to the videotape format (that we know of).

Since 2002, Home Movie Day has delighted local communities around the world, raising archival awareness through the public sharing of personal memories. Home Video Day has the same mission, only addresses specifically the unique risks and needs of the much more fragile videotape format  (the shelf life of videotape is considered to be 25 years at most). Folks are asked to bring in a few tapes from their personal collection, anything unique on either VHS or Mini-DV is welcomed, you name it: birthday parties, family vacations, student projects, media art, found footage, even that unlabeled VHS tape that was thrusted in a box twenty years ago.

What to Expect:

When you arrive you will be asked to sign a waiver form (lest your video be damaged in the process, or arrived already damaged), and led to an inspection table where a volunteer will ask you brief questions about what you know about the video and where you would like the screening to start (at the beginning is a favorite!). Unlike amateur film formats which tend to come in reels fifteen minutes long or less, video can go on for hours on a single tape. To manage the event, we ask that participants settle for a ten minute clip of their video to be shown, more or less depending on the volume of material waiting to be screened. After the screening, your video will be returned to you.

Throughout the day, special guest organizations will be giving short presentations on works from their collections. These participants include:


Asian American Oral History Collective


Third World Newsreel

XFR Collective

Activist Archivists


and more!

There will also be refreshments, a Home Video Day raffle, and volunteer media archivists on site to give you advice on preserving your memories for the long term.


March 1st, 2014


in the upstairs event space of Downtown Community Television’s Firehouse location, 87 Lafayette Street

View Larger Map


Links and Downloads:

Official Home Video Day (DCTV)

E-Blast (DCTV)

Press Release (PDF)

Flyer (Chinese)

Facebook Page

Twitter tags: @actarc @DCTVny  #HVD14



Home Video Day is Coming! And it’s FREE

January 16, 2014 Events Comments Off

Downtown Community Television Center (DCTV), located in a historic firehouse in the heart of Chinatown, has graciously provided us access to their gorgeous upstairs event space and top-notch screening equipment. Third World Newsreel has also played an instrumental role in setting up this event. h

We have the logistics but will have an event page soon on this world premier event of Home Video Day!  Be sure to check back!

Date: Saturday, March 1st, 2014

Time:  1-6pm (ongoing)

Location: DCTV, 87 Lafayette Street NYC 10013, 3rd Floor

Directions: Take the N,R,Q,6,J,Z,A,C,E to Canal Street

This is a free event!

Update 1/31/2014: 

The presses are coming! Check out these links.





EVENT: Surveillance

October 23, 2013 Events Comments Off

Now that Home Movie Day is behind us, it is time to get a leg up on the next rung in our quest for A/V archival completeness: UNESCO’s World Day for AudioVisual Heritage. Like HMD, there are events happening all over the world this weekend, mostly hosted by well-funded institutions as a way to show off the untapped areas of their collections (check out Carnegie Hall’s blog post).

The event that piques our activist interest is a Surveillance-themed screening at the Brooklyn Historical Society (October 27th at 1pm). The program is a mix of real surveillance footage and artistic works incorporating the theme, including a world premiere of a Beryl Sokoloff film “Les Girls.” You can read more about the lineup here:

The program is free, but please register at EventBrite:


Home Movie Day 2013: Recap and Gallery

October 21, 2013 Blog No Comments

Yesterday, a few of us ActArcs volunteered at Home Movie Day – Brooklyn,  just one of the many events that happened all over the world this past weekend in celebration of obsolete film formats. The Center for Home Movies  has a loose set of guidelines for organizing a Home Movie Day in your hometown, but the general idea is to find a space, a screen, and projectors that work (not to mention a few people who know how to use them). Do a little local advertising, print out a bunch of waiver forms, and voilà, you have a screening event that raises archival awareness through the public sharing of personal histories.

Some Home Movie Days I’ve attended  have been a bit on the dry side with more A/V nerds volunteering than audience members watching. And if the footage is silent – as it usually is – a stifling, dead air can hang over the audience. The organizers of this year’s HMD aimed to change all that and held the event at Bat Haus, a converted garage and co-working space in Bushwick, the artiest of Brooklyn neighborhoods. A refreshments table was set up in the back that served donated beer from Brooklyn Brewery and a cornucopia of homemade cupcakes and cookies. While the addition of sugar and alcohol to a public event might seem like a no-brainer, you’d be forgetting how persnickety archivists can be about handling food and drink too close to materials. But this is how home movies were watched back in their day, screened at private parties and family get-togethers, talking and laughter serving as soundtrack; we applaud the attempt this year to recreate that context as part of the event.

Starting at the ungodly hour of 11am on a Saturday, it took a couple of hours for the audience to trickle in, which is just as well for that was about how much time it took to get the four projectors – two 16mm and two 8mm – operating in a smooth tandem. ActArc Dan Erdman showed off his private-film-collector-handiness by leading mechanical team to greatness. Volunteers inspected each film on long tables illuminated by work lights, making for some interesting photo opportunities you can see in the gallery below. By about 1pm, we had a thick, lively audience milling about, folks toggling between watching the films and just hanging out in the back or around the inspection tables. Some even came to the Activist Archivist coloring booth to give some Crayola glory to the film storage tip sheets and Home Video Day postcard teasers. Our immersion-through-craftmaking idea was a bit difficult to maintain in the dark, although many of us did learn that day that using crayons after two beers allows for some interesting art.

If anyone came to this or any other Home Movie Day event, please share your experience in the comments below, we’d love to hear your feedback.


Event: Home Movie Day, October 19th 2013

October 5, 2013 Events Comments Off

Brooklyn has become the de facto, de primo, delovely locale for alternative screenings, and we are pleased to see this year’s Home Movie Day find its legs in Bushwick. HMD invites the public to bring in old 8mm, Super 8mm, and 16mm reels to be inspected and screened by audivisual archiving students at the mere cost of seeing your divorced parents jump through waves on their honeymoon.

The event takes place at Bat Haus from 11am-4pm on Saturday, October 19th, 2013. Unlike previous years, this incarnation will involve booze and refreshments (!!).

The organizers were interested in breaking free from the normally film-heavy format and invited Activist Archivists to set up a table with information on our own impending Home Video Day. We’ll be there with bells on, shilling information on preservation and digitization actions to take to your VHS, Hi-8, Mini-DV, and U-Matic tapes that are no doubt stored horizontally, in a plastic bag, on the bottom shelf in the basement – all the things we tell you NOT TO DO!

It is sure to be the best Home Movie Day yet! More information is on their Facebook Page:


#owswalk: Sunday September 15th | Occupy Anniversary Participatory Walking Tour

September 12, 2013 Events Comments Off


The official history of the United States is a history of purposely, systematically erasing social justice movements from our collective memory, or editing them beyond recognition. Forgotten are the labor struggles that won us Social Security and the weekend; the breadth of the civil rights movement — from bus windows smashed on Freedom Rides to Black Panthers murdered by police in their sleep — is reduced to a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr., in a corner of the nation’s capital. The intended consequence is that ordinary people won’t remember that, by organizing, they can build power for themselves and change the world. This erasure often works.

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting,” said Milan Kundera.



WITNESS Archivist Explains ‘Why Archiving Your Video Is More Important Than You Think’

August 8, 2013 Blog Comments Off

WITNESS archivist and Activist Archivists member Yvonne Ng introduces WITNESS’ Activists’ Guide to Archiving Video  on


A Time for Burning: Cinema of the Civil Rights Movement @ BAM Aug 13—Aug 28, 2013

August 6, 2013 Events Comments Off

BAM has announced a series of screenings to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Screening information here.


WITNESS has launched its epic Activists’ Guide to Archiving Video

July 31, 2013 Blog Comments Off

This month, the good folks at WITNESS have launched their much-anticipated Activists’ Guide to Archiving Video. ActArcs member and WITNESS archivist Yvonne Ng played a major role in creating content and bringing this project to fruition. We are very proud of her efforts, as well as all of the hard work put in by her fellow creators at WITNESS. This guide does much to demystify and simplify archiving. While it focuses on video and activists, we feel the principles illuminated can be applied to a wide range of individuals. We look forward to adapting it to our purposes, and encourage others to do so as well. WITNESS very much wants feedback on this guide, which will continue to evolve in the future.


Yuri Kochiyama: Passion for Justice @ Maysles Cinema TONIGHT!

July 11, 2013 Events Comments Off

From the Maysles Cinema calendar page:

Yuri Kochiyama: Passion for Justice
Pat Saunders and Rea Tajiri, 1994, 57 min

Yuri Kochiyama is a Japanese American woman who has lived in Harlem for more than 40 years with a long history of activism on a wide range of issues. Through extensive interviews with family and friends, archival footage, music and photographs, Yuri Kochiyama chronicles this remarkable woman’s contribution to social change through some of the most significant events of the 20th century, including the Black Liberation movement, the struggle for Puerto Rican independence, and the Japanese American Redress movement. In an era of divided communities and racial conflict, Kochiyama offers an outstanding example of an equitable and compassionate multiculturalist vision.

Following the film will be a panel discussion on the legacy of Kochiyama for API activism and organizing today.

Suggested donation: $10. All proceeds will go towards supporting CAAAV programs.
Please make sure to write “Yuri Kochiyama screening” in the “designate the program for your donation” field


Events: CrawlCamp @ METRO and Workers Film and Photo League Screening @ Interference

July 11, 2013 Events Comments Off

There are two hot archiving-related events coming up next week that will cost you nothing and you should go!

July 17th, 2013 – CrawlCamp: A free unconference about web archiving at METRO.

Comrade Anna Perricci has informed us that she will be speaking at an “unconference” (i.e., bagels!) at METRO, the best place to get a free education if you are a librarian or archivist in New York. To register and find out more, click here:

Also speaking is Alex Thurman, her colleague at Columbia University, who will demo the Human Rights Web Archive, which WE HAD NOT HEARD OF UNTIL NOW! It is groovy, check it:

She mentioned they will probably speak earlier in the day, so grab a bagel and get schooled.

*Photo of baby is what Kelly thinks of when she thinks of “crawling.”  Also,  it was free to use off the internet.


July 19th, 2013 – WORKERS FILM AND PHOTO LEAGUE SCREENING @ Interference Archive

Interference Archive is our favorite place in Brooklyn, that is except for ChipShop where you can get a vegetarian shepard’s pie the size of your head for $10…why not do both?

Next week, they’ll be screening films from The Workers Film and Photo League as the final installment in their “Strike Then, Strike Now” series.

“The Workers Film and Photo League (founded in 1930) was a cultural arm of the Workers International Relief, which gave support to workers on strike. From picket lines to nationwide marches against unemployment, anti-fascist demonstrations, and more, the League documented the social unrest that defined the Depression years.”

We continue to be in awe of IA’s commitment to showcasing alternative forms of media from all eras of America’s fraught history.

Program schedule is on their website:




ActArc interview with Start an Archives!

July 10, 2013 Blog Comments Off

Kelly answered a few questions posed by Scott Ziegler for the always-engaging Start an Archives! blog. Scott is an archivist from Philly and a key player in the Radical Archives of Philadelphia. We’re honored to be included in their new series of  interviews with community archivists. Enjoy, won’t you?



Review: Vine

July 8, 2013 Blog 2 Comments

Vine is a video app developed for Twitter that likes to tout itself as revolutionary, but apparently the revolution will not be archived – at least not with the correct date.  I got a chance to review the app after it was finally released on Android last month; my grievances are aired below. Bottom line? Vine will allow video activists to efficiently bear witness via  6-second, GIF-style videos, but saving them for the long term will not be as easy…or fun.

If you aren’t familiar with Vine, there’s a good primer by Chloe Albenesius at PC Mag, and I enjoyed John Muellerleile’s more intimate post on his personal experience with the app.  As an artistic tool that uses little storage space (think of it as the video version of Twitter’s 140 character limit), Vine has great potential for collectors and creators of activist content. My review focuses on the three areas to look for when identifying an archival-friendly digital tool: technical metadata, file accessibility, and usage rights.

Some things I noted after spending a few hours with the app:

  • Buggy local storage capability.  Once you have created the video, you are asked if you want to turn on sharing to Vine, Twitter, or Facebook. You can turn off all sharing and, according to the Vine help pages, the video is only accessible through your phone’s photo and video library. I had intermittent success with locating a file I created. The app created a folder within my phone’s DCIM folder, but of the six or so videos I created, only one actually ended up in this folder and only after I mounted an SD card into my phone. I’m not sure if it’s related, though, because the folder was created on my phone’s local storage, not SD card storage.  A second video uploaded after mounting an SD card also did not land into the folder. The user has no control over manually saving the file anywhere else on their phone. So, you got me.  At one point, retrieving the stored file off my phone was so befuddling that I finally just shared the video to Twitter and then downloaded the MP4 video by right-clicking and saving the file off the web.
  • Technical metadata is sloppy. The most glaring development oversight is that the technical metadata, according to Exiftool, sets the create date of my dog video to February 6th, 2036. Many of us activists on-the-go rely on the technical metadata of our digital files to tell us what we might have failed to set right in the midst of action. I sent a tweet and a bug report to Vine, so we’ll see if there’s an update soon. You can view the technical metadata report of the video here.I should note that the date issue was the case in both the file downloaded off the internet, and the one file that ended up being  stored locally on my phone.
  • Rights are not as bad as they could be: The Terms of Service agreement that Vine users will sign, usually without reading, are icky, but not atypical.  Vine reserves the rights to disclose your personal information when it deems necessary and to alter and use your content as benefits their corporate adventures, all the while taking care to let you know it’s not responsible for anything that happens to your data. It does claim, interestingly, that it has the right “to preserve” your content. This definitely not a word used in the Youtube Terms of Service (which uses the word “retain” in a similar context). I may be reading into the usage too much…but by using that term, does Vine grant itself rights to submit data to, say the Library of Congress as its parent, Twitter, does each and every one of your tweets? All in all,  it is generally not recommended by ActArcs to rely on profit-driven services to hang on to your data for a long period of time; Vine’s terms of service offers no exception. If you are storing any valued content on Vine,  keep a copy locally.

I created a Vine video of my dog  languishing in the heat on a hot summer day; my observations are based on shooting this video with an Android Photon Motorola XT897. As usual with these things, if you aren’t a phone app developer – and I am not – it can be difficult to tell if the problem you are having is with your phone, with the app, or some combination of the two. Take it all with a grain of salt and do let us know in the comments section if you have had different or comparable experiences with Vine.

Update: After other ActArcs played around with Vine on their iPhones it seems that iOS users will not have the same issues with the app as I did on my Android.  Technical metadata is sound and the files they created went directly to their usual camera roll.


Reading: “Riot Grrrl Collection” at Bluestockings bookstore!

June 18, 2013 Events Comments Off




Tuesday, June 18th @ 7PM – Free

Reading: Lisa Darms “Riot Grrrl Collection”

With Johanna Fateman, Ramdasha Bikceem, & Molly Neuman  and Kathleen Hannah


Join Riot Grrrl Collection archivist and editor Lisa Darms, and contributors Johanna Fateman and Kathleen Hanna to discuss zine making, collecting, and the riot grrrl legacy.Before Tumblr and Twitter, before desktop publishing, punk girls fueled the revolution with scissors and glue and photocopiers. Girls gathered in rooms across the country to bond over music, to refuse to be labeled, to be angry and lustful and smart. Self-published zines, posters, and handmade flyers articulated the aesthetic and politics of the exciting movement of the 90s. They are art objects, manifestos, love letters—stunning pre-digital and handmade delcarations grounded in feminism, and inspired by music. Lisa Darms, an archivist at the Fales Library at New York University and former riot grrrl, decided to build a collection to preserve this moment in history. With donations from Kathleen Hanna, Johanna Fateman, Tammy Rae Carland, Darms began the collection which now includes a wealth of material donated from riot grrrls all over the country.