UH West O'ahu, Washington University team up to preserve rare recordings

University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu
Ryan Mielke, (808) 454-4753
Executive Director of Public Affairs, Chancellor's Office
Posted: Oct 5, 2009

A rare interview with journalist, labor activist and poet, Frank Marshall Davis, is now accessible around the globe, and preserved for generations, thanks to a recent collaboration on a media preservation project with the Film & Media Archive at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Hawai‘i – West O‘ahu’s Center for Labor Education and Research (CLEAR).

The Davis interview, produced by CLEAR in 1987, was originally conducted for a planned episode of the “Rice & Roses” television series that was carried by Hawaiʻi Public Television. The extended interview has never been broadcast. The recent national attention Davis received during the 2008 presidential election has reinvigorated interest to preserve this interview. Davis is mentioned in Barack Obama’s “Dreams of My Father” and the nature of his relationship to the president was the subject of speculation, primarily by Obama’s critics.

CLEAR approached the Film & Media Archive to assist with this preservation. “The interview with Davis was a natural fit with our large African American media collection, complementing the Henry Hampton Collection, which focuses on Civil Rights, labor, democracy, and African American artists in the 20th Century” said David Rowntree, special collections archivist at Washington University.

As part of the preservation strategy CLEAR has donated all of the original materials associated with the interview to the Film & Media Archive. These materials now form part of The Frank Marshall Davis Collection housed at Washington University. The collection consists of 10 U-Matic ¾” tapes of the interview that total three hours and 22 minutes in duration. There are an additional two tapes of Davis reading his poetry and five tapes capturing a number of his personal photographs and clippings. 

“We are delighted that the partnership with Washington University will enable preservation of this rare footage and make it accessible to both scholars and the general public,” said Chris Conybeare, a CLEAR faculty member who also was the host and producer of the 'Rice & Roses' series and an interviewer of Davis.  “We think that these tapes will help provide better a better understanding regarding Mr. Davis and his many accomplishments.” Beginning October 1, parts of this interview are now available online via the Washington University website: www.library.wustl.edu/units/spec/filmandmedia.




About UH West O‘ahu: UH West O‘ahu became a four-year, comprehensive university when it served its first class of freshmen in fall 2007. The University offers quality education, small classes and personalized attention at convenient locations. UH West O‘ahu held a ground blessing ceremony in January in anticipation of the start of construction for a state-of-the art, new campus in the City of Kapolei. For more information, visit uhwo.hawaii.edu, twitter.com/uhwestoahu, facebook.com/uhwestoahu or call 454-4700 or toll-free (866) 299-8656.


About the Film & Media Archive at Washington University in St. Louis: The Film & Media Archive at Washington University in St. Louis opened its doors to the public in September 2002. Unique among cultural institutions that collect moving image and sound media, it is comprised not only of completed works, but also of the numerous materials that went into the creation of those works. The Archive collects film, video, photos, interview outtakes, stock footage, and other materials created during the production process. The Film & Media Archive collects materials related to Civil Rights, African-American life, the history of Harlem, social justice, democracy and the arts. For more information visit http://library.wustl.edu/units/spec/filmandmedia/