May 22, 2022

Old Dominion University Working to Digitize Historic Local Television News Footage


The black handwriting scrawled on the outside of the tin is visible 55 years later: “6-29-57 Children Come First.”

Inside is film of an education special, aired a year before six Norfolk schools closed rather than desegregate.

It’s one of nearly 2,000 reels documenting local and national history that were almost lost – but now, Old Dominion University is working to inventory the collection, digitize it and make it available to the public.

The vision for the final product, according to ODU special collections librarian Sonia Yaco, is a website where anyone can search by topic or time frame and find videos that match.


Yaco estimates that digitizing all the reels will cost $200,000. Her staff must finish the film inventory before it can apply fora National Archives grant in the fall.

The collection, with film dating from 1944 to 1979, was donated about 12 years ago to ODU by Charlie Hartig, former news director at WTKR.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.