CUL Digital Collections
The WFAA Newsfilm Collection, ca. 1960-1978, is part of the moving image holdings of the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection (formerly the Southwest Film/Video Archive). The G. William Jones Film and Video Collection is part of the Hamon Arts Library.
Hamon Arts Library digital collections are part of CUL Digital Collections, which contain thousands of digitized photographs, manuscripts, imprints, and works of art held by SMU's Central University Libraries special collections.
The WFAA Newsfilm Collection spans 18 years of 16mm news footage from 1960-1978. All of the films have been preserved in a climate controlled vault, but until recently, the content has not been identified and made available to the public. The Jones Film and Video Collection is now digitizing the films, so researchers may use them in their moving image and documentary projects, as well as for general historical research.
The clips feature rarely seen interviews with personalities such as George H. W. Bush, Jesse Jackson, Gerald Ford, and entertainer Tiny Tim. Subject matter ranges from election campaigns to city meetings, chili cook-offs to children’s swimming contests, gun control to civil rights issues. Over the timespan of the collection, public buildings are built and demolished, presidents are elected and replaced, and a young reporter named Bill O’Reilly gets his start.
Whether to promote a film or a cause, many celebrities took the time to make an appearance on the Channel 8 News. John Wayne and Pat Boone attend an event at the Cotton Bowl. Omar Sharif gives an intriguing interview. Mel Torme stops by to discuss the music industry. Bob Hope’s visits to the SMU campus are captured.
Important news stories about political issues are well represented within the collection. Highlights include reports on global issues such as Dallas’ Ross Perot working to free prisoners of war in Vietnam all the way down to municipal issues of eminent domain and the building of libraries and schools. Jane Fonda even makes a visit, not to promote a film, but to rally support for the movement protesting the Vietnam War.
Sports have always played an important role in Dallas, and the people and events that were important to the teams and the fans are well represented in the collection. Footage includes press conferences, practices, and some games. Other sporting events covered are the move of the Texas Rangers to Arlington, the original Texas Stadium being built in Irving, and the Dallas Chaparrals moving to San Antonio. Also, many SMU sporting events received WFAA coverage during these years.
These films capture the people of Dallas living and working as the town grew up around them. Many of the stories cover the serious topics of war and corruption, but a large number of them are more whimsical. Films in the collection include inventions like a self-driving golf cart, an interview with a gopher, and even a piece about a young puppeteer from Dallas named Jeff Dunham. All of these stories contributed to the history of this city, and while they are not seen as historically relevant as Bush’s tax plan during his 1970 Senate race, they are things that mattered to the people living here during those two decades.
The digital archive of this collection is constantly growing as new films are digitized every week. Be sure to check back often for new content as our work progresses. We are also working with local historians to identify people, places, and events. When we are able to obtain this information, details are made available in the Description field of the video’s metadata record.
Items in Central University Library Digital Collections are digitized following the SMU Central University Libraries Digitization Guidelines and Procedures. Digital collections are created under the guidelines of the CUL Digital Collections: Filenaming, Workflow, and Metadata Guidelines, or through specialized metadata profiles tailored for the collection.
Please cite G. William Jones Film and Video Collection, Southern Methodist University when using these video files.
For more information about the WFAA Newsfilm Collection and the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection at SMU’s Hamon Arts Library, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.