Women in Film on Public Broadcasting

The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) welcomes guest author Veronica Mendez, a duel intern with AAPB and Women in Film and Video New England. Stay tuned for a short series of essays that feature public broadcasting materials covering topics related to women in the film industry. Veronica is currently pursuing a bachelor’s in Media and Film from Suffolk University with an emphasis on video editing.

Exploring Digital Archives

This past June marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. My first project with the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) was to promote the launch of the new LGBT+ Collection, which included 2,000 public broadcasting programs and original materials dating back to the 1950s.

I was responsible for creating promotional clips that documented the representation of the LGBT+ community in public media including conversations, social and political reactions, and cultural movements associated with LGBT+ history. Through this process, I came across firsthand accounts of the Stonewall riots in an unedited interview with Martha Shelley, lesbian activist and writer, conducted by American Experience. Another instant of history I discovered in the archives, was the debate of trans sexuality and sports in the 1970’s. From a PBS News Hour segment with Dr. Renee Richards, a trans woman and tennis player who was fighting for admission in the US Open.

Seeing how many important moments of women’s history, were preserved in the archives it became a mission to find the stories about women in the film production industry. Finding women in film production in the archives became the perfect creative way to tie my internships together. Women in Film and Video New England is an organization dedicated to help women network, mentor each other, and find opportunities in the film industry. Being an intern in this organization has afforded me many opportunities that are beneficial to my learning in this media production field. Luckily, some of the founders of the New England chapter have been preserved in the AAPB archives. I will write about the women in film production in the archives and the importance of their works.

Overall, I was introduced to history in a way I wasn’t expecting. Getting to watch a program in the archives lets you experience the information just like the original viewers experienced. The archives is in charge of preserving these programs, but it is also important to remember these women and to not let them get lost to time. I saw public broadcasting programs from across the nation in one location which left a lasting impression, that I hope to share with you each week. I will focus on women in media so join me as I uncover the treasures of the archives. 

Dr. Renne Richard’s post: 

Martha Shelley: 

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