Marion Stokes

Secretly Archived 35 Years of TV

A card carrying member of the Communist party, Marion was one of the most intelligent and articulate voices on local television in Philadelphia in the late 1960s, where she also happened to learn the power television carried across the airwaves, and the great influence producers had over the content and messages being broadcast.

Then, in 1979 when the Iranian hostage crisis dominated airwaves and established the 24/7 news cycle, Marion decided that someone had to archive it all, and she hit the record button on her VCR and betamax players. Her players don’t stop recording until 35 years later, when she breathes her last.

She recorded over 71,000 tapes worth of television, and bought hundreds of thousands of newspapers, magazines, books, and even Apple computers. Was she a genius? Was hers a mission of madness? Listen now to the incredible true story of Marion Stokes.

“Pretty much everything else took a back seat…It provided a certain rhythm to her life, and a certain amount of deep, deep conviction that this stuff was going to be useful. That somehow, someone would find a way to index it, archive it, store it–that it would be useful.”

Michael, Marion's son