This blog post was written by MARMIA’s Audiovisual Archivist, Joana Stillwell. Joana joined MARMIA as our first official staff member in June of 2021. We are so thrilled to have her on the MARMIA Team and for you to meet her!

Joana at MARMIA’s office at Impact Hub, Baltimore.

Hello! My name is Joana Stillwell and I am MARMIA’s new AV Archivist. I am also in my final semester of the Master of Library and Information Science program at the University of Maryland where I am specializing in archives and digital curation as well as working towards a Museum Scholarship and Material Culture Certificate. My background is in studio art and art history and I’m interested in artist and community archives. I am particularly fond of video and it has been amazing to do audiovisual digitization and preservation at MARMIA. I have been very busy this summer digitizing the WJZ-TV Collection (U-Matic, U-MaticSP, VHS, S-VHS, and Betacam so far), inventorying and preparing the Diggs-Johnson Museum’s oral histories for external digitization (compact cassettes and Hi8s), researching and preparing materials for MARMIA’s Oral History Projects, helping to reorganize the collections at the Baltimore City Archives, handling reference requests, and learning the general ins and outs of a nonprofit regional archive. 

Digitizing a U-Matic tape of WJZ’s “Evening Magazine” from 1988 featuring this story of Oprah Winfrey on the set of “The Women of Brewster Place.”
Digitizing an S-VHS tape of WJZ’s “Eyewitness News” from 1990 with Al Sanders. 

Part of my curriculum for the certificate is to produce a practicum project in which I design an independent research and creative project with an institution. After coordinating with Siobhan, Founder and CEO of MARMIA, we settled on a newly acquired collection of eleven Super 8mm films created and donated by local Baltimore artist, Melissa Shatto. The curious thing about these films is that although they are from the 1990s and show Baltimore bands performing music, they are silent! Our goal with this project is to create audio commentary and oral histories with the creator(s) and subject(s) of these films. We hope this project will illuminate the histories and contexts in which these films were made as well as inform how these films are arranged and described in MARMIA’s collection to ensure better access for the future! 

The eleven Super 8mm films from the Shatto Collection currently spooled on two screening reels along with the eleven original canisters.

Fortunately, the films were digitized in 2017 thanks to the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s  Community Creation Program, which was held at Impact Hub, Baltimore. Not only did this event lead to the acquisition of these films into MARMIA’s collection, but was also Siobhan’s introduction to Impact Hub and led to the current home of MARMIA’s office! The films were screened at this event and then digitized. The films are currently still spliced together for projection and in order to better preserve the films, I’ll be performing film inspection then separating and rehousing them into archival canisters. 

Video stills from the digitized Super 8mm films from the Shatto Collection.