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Home > Blog > May 2014 > Streaming Philadelphia History - Introducing Input with Marion Stokes & John S. Stokes, Jr

Input was a Philadelphia panel discussion program hosted by John S. Stokes, Jr. that aired Sunday mornings on WCAU-TV10 from 1968 through early 1971. The program is a window in to the people and ideas that shaped that tumultuous time in Philadelphia. You'll find Input listed among the Streaming Video resources on our Digital Media page. 

According to the Internet Archive, the program covered topics like "religion and atheism, violence and war, reform of the prison system, the role of religion on campus, genetic engineering, environmentalism and ecology, Native American rights, reparations for slavery, women's rights, psychiatry, astrology, horticulture, eastern religions, the battle of the sexes, gossip, the generational gap, geriatric rights, and education reform." John Stokes, with the invaluable assistance of his co-producer, sometimes co-host, and wife, Marion, interviewed the people who shaped our times and our city, past and present, such as William C. DavidonJohn E. FryerPete SeegerMarjorie and Thomas MelvilleFather Paul Washington,Leon ShenandoahMuhammad KenyattaPeter CountrymanSam Katz, and David Richardson.

However, Input is only part of the story.  The legacy left by Marion Stokes, a former Free Library of Philadelphia librarian, founding board member of the National Organization for Women (NOW), who also helped organize five buses to transport Philadelphians to the 1963 March on Washington, is only now beginning to be appreciated. It is now known that Marion Stokes was a singular documentarian of her times who independently videotaped 35 years of television news braodcasts. A profile that appeared in Fast Company in 2013 begins this way, 

"In a storage unit somewhere in Philadelphia, 140,000 VHS tapes sit packed into four shipping containers. Most are hand-labeled with a date between 1977 and 2012, and if you pop one into a VCR you might see scenes from the Iranian Hostage Crisis, the Reagan Administration, or Hurricane Katrina."

These tapes are now being held in the Internet Archive's temperature-controlled storage center in Richmond, CA. Next comes the long painstaking work of digitizing each of the 140,000 tapes individually. It's work that will pay dividends for researchers, social scientists, artists, history buffs, and others as it becomes freely available over the web via the Internet Archive.

Input is a resource the Free Library is proud to offer and we'll certainly be eagerly awaiting more from the Marion Stokes archive as it becomes available.

If you are a researcher using the collection, please drop us a line. The Internet Archive is eager to incorporate new scholarship into their work on the collection.   

Here's one of the more interesting videos from the archive. It's called The Anatomy of Violence. Find more at our Digital Media page. 

Tags: African American, digital media, history, television

Marion Stokes in 2012 - Photo credit: Michael Metelits
Marion Stokes in 2012 - Photo credit: Michael Metelits
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