Many aspects of agriculture, including science, technology, engineering and crop management, are taught and researched at Michigan State University (MSU). Autumn is the time of year when many crops such as corn and apples are gathered. In the 1970s, MSU Cooperative Extension Reporter Roger Brown interviewed farmers and MSU faculty who handled these crops or worked in related areas.

Roger Brown interviews Charles Hines from the Michigan Crop Reporting Service

Brown filmed dozens of interviews, covering many areas of cooperative extension for MSU. These 16mm films, which were donated to the MSU Archives & Historical Collections, contain magnetic stripe audio. While cellulose acetate moving image film, stored in ideal environmental conditions, is not often an immediate concern for preservation, magnetic media can present issues.

Over time the striped magnetic coating can lift from the film leading to the loss of the audio component1. So while there was enough time to rescue the moving images, the soundtrack was in potentially greater danger.

16mm film with a magnetic stripe soundtrack along the right-hand side

Fortunately, the films in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Information Service records (UA 8.1.4)2 collection were not experiencing any immediate issues. A selection from this collection was sent to our vendor for digitization, and now researchers interested in agriculture in Michigan in the 1970s have greater access to these films.

As a fun “extra”, Brown interviewed Fred Honhart, then Assistant Director of MSU Archives & Historical Collections, during the country’s bicentennial in 1976. Each read from the diaries of Fred Henson, in the Henson family papers (UA 10.3.449)3, from volumes dating back to 1910.

Fred Honhart reads from one of the Henson diaries in the basement of MSU Libraries

The film containing the interviews with Charles Hines and Fred Honhart (among others) can be viewed here.

  1. National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. Magnetic Stripes: Re-Adhering a Lifted Magnetic Stripe.
  2. Agriculture and Natural Resource Information Service records, UA 8.1.4, Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan.
  3. Henson family papers, UA 10.3.449, Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan.