Telling stories around the electronic campfire, the use of archives in television productions

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Epp, Kathleen L.
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The purpose of this thesis is to develop an archival perspective on the use of archival documents in television productions and to explore the significant public programming opportunities presented to archivists by the growing history-on-television industry. It will be argued that television has become a significant "teacher" of history and that it is essential that archivists acquire a basic level of visual literacy. Archivists need to be able to view television programmes and the television production process critically. While some debate over the merits of historical television programmes and films has developed in the literature of professional historians, such archival literature is limited. The contextual approach to archives, grounded in the idea that the intellectual focus of archival administration is knowledge of the history of the records or the context of their creation, will provide the theoretical lens through which the use of archives on television will be analyzed. This study incorporates a number of components, including research into television programmes which use archival documents, an interview and correspondence with archivists who have worked with the television clientele, a survey of documentary producers and researchers, and an archival critique of one prominent televised Canadian documentary, 'No Price Too High: Canadians and the Second World War '. The thesis will conclude with several suggestions to archivists for public programming designed to facilitate and improve the uses of archives in television broadcasting. The thesis will show that archivists can make a vital contribution to historical understanding and the public interest by taking advantage of opportunities provided by television.