February 23, 2018
Microfilm Saves History
History is defined as “the study of past events, particularly in human affairs” or “a continuous, typically chronological, record of important or public events or of a particular trend or institution”. Even the definition of “oral history”, which is defined as “the collection and study of historical information using sound recordings of interviews with people having personal knowledge of past events” points to storing the information on media.
Without a way of writing, typing, or recording writing, video, audio, and art, the last thing we have is passing stories down from generation to generation, but if you’ve ever played the telephone game you know that messages get messed up. Of course, no one would want to pass down detailed financial information, detailed law, scientific data, etc. anyway, so the bottom line is that human history only exists due to saving and maintaining The Record.
The United States of America is notorious for keeping vital records and having a paper trail for everything when it comes to you and the government. If you come from the Philippines, for example, you know how hard it is to get your birth certificate. Heck, you may not even have a lease to furnish for your house.
Therefore, without The Record, history is erased- its people, events, and facts. Without the archive, there is no history and there is a sense of nihilism. In 1870 American newspaper mills switched to wood pulp, which decay rapidly. In the 1920s, the Kodak proposed that microfilm was the solution, which allowed an entire newspaper to be contained on a small roll of 35mm microfilm. Eventually libraries were transferred to microfiche and microfilm while the originals were destroyed.
Now thanks to microfilm scanning and microfiche conversion, the documents are digital and can be printed, e-mailed, saved in the cloud, local PCs, discs, and servers.