MSU Film and Video Preservation Fund

1 04 2014

Are we losing our campus history?



Stacks of films in the MSU Archives

The Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections have hundreds of film reels and videotapes documenting Spartan football, basketball and other sports from the 1930s to the 1990s, when digital cameras took over. Almost exclusively the film is 16mm, with a mixture of color, black & white, audio & no audio. The video comes in a variety of formats, with the majority being VHS, ¾”, 1”, Betacam and DVCAM.

A sample of video tape formats in the MSU Archives

A sample of video tape formats in the MSU Archives


This film and video collection is vulnerable to degradation of its media, and must be restored and digitized soon – before the content is lost. Our plan is to put this important digitized film and video online along with complementary materials to showcase the people and events.


The film and video collection also includes valuable footage that documents the history of the Spartan Marching Band, WKAR Productions, MSU International Programs, and 4H and Cooperative Extension events. Together, the materials document the special place of MSU sports, music, and youth development to Michigan life and culture. Some highlights of the collection include: White House Christmas (1954), REO clubhouse films, State High School Basketball Finals (1949), MSU Commencements, “This is the Big Ten” (1965), MSU Marching band (1939-1980s), Alumni reunions, and Recitals. Samples of digitized materials can be found on our Spartan History website, .


The University Archives holds a number of film reels documenting MSU’s involvement in Vietnam in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Dr. Charles Keith, professor of history, finds this material an invaluable resource. “The archives of MSU’s projects in Vietnam are a valuable piece of the history of the university’s engagement with the world.  As controversies over the Vietnam War fade, these archives remain a crucial source for understanding the situation in South Vietnam in the early years of the Cold War, and how the university envisioned and carried out global engagement in this complex political and cultural moment.  For me, this collection has been a priceless resource both to pursue my own research in Vietnamese history and to better understand the history of my own institution.”


Close up of Spartan Football films

Close up of Spartan Football films

You can help preserve these important pieces of Spartan history with a gift to the MSU Film and Video Preservation Fund! A gift of $50, $100, or $500 will greatly assist our digitization efforts. Your help will not only prevent the loss of these deteriorating materials but bring new life to these resources by providing access to researchers and others to enjoy. These materials contain valuable visual glimpses into our past! DVD copies will also be available for purchase as another way to help fund the program.


Join the team and help save these priceless Spartan memories!


To help preserve this history:

An archivist views a film from the MSU Archives' collections

An archivist views a film from the MSU Archives’ collections












Written by Ed Busch, Electronic Records Archivist




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