In January of 2002, Sandra Hubbard, independent film producer, heard a rumor on the street that the local affiliate for a national broadcasting company was going to dispose of their video and film archives dating back to the early 1960’s. They were moving into a new building, and said the new space didn’t have room for all of the archives. Their film archive filled about half of a room, and was stored in those round metal containers known for holding film. These containers can become dangerous and combustible after years of storage. The other half of their archives—what they were getting rid of—was a room full of 3/4 inch tapes, the big ones. There were about 7,000 of these tapes, dating from 1982 – 1992, the Clinton years. Hubbard contacted the affiliate and inquired as to how to save the archives. A response came back that they had tried to donate the tapes and film reels to several historical entities in Arkansas, and no one had the room or the money to take them on. As a result, and unbeknownst to Hubbard, they methodically dumped their entire film library out the window into a construction-site dumpster.
When Hubbard called to check on the progress being made in finding some institution or entity to take on the archives, she found that the film library had already been disposed of, and the 7,000 ¾-inch tapes were to be thrown away the following week. She immediately swung into action, and found out where the film library was “dumped.” She went to the location, met with the landfill people, garnered the support of former governor David Pryor, and began the quest to retrieve the film library. Alas, it had been crushed by the huge rollers on the gigantic earth-moving machines at the landfill. As a result, she began begging the affiliate to let her at least save the remaining 3/4 inch archive.
Finally, after numerous phone calls, she was given the go-ahead to “show up on Monday with a truck and some men, and take all you can in one day,” which she did. She rented a truck and hired three workers and they managed to gather all of the tapes and moved them. The task was remarkable, and the entire day was spent loading and unloading the tapes into Hubbard’s home, basement, and dining room, with some left over in the carport.
Those tapes are now safe and secure, and are being transferred to a more suitable and stable format. Each tape has numerous entries of Bill and Hillary Clinton, as they were at the peak of their leadership in the state during those years. It is an invaluable look at the history of our state and nation over the years.
Hubbard is looking for organizations through which she can obtain grants to have the content digitized and catalogued for future generations. The archives are also available to be included in other projects. Inquiries are invited.