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Moving Images

The Center houses a large collection of moving images in film, video, and digital formats. The largest portion comes from the KCRA-TV Film Collection and the KOVR-TV Film Collection. The raw news footage and edited programs date from the late 1950's and have been widely used in documentaries and programs seen on public and cable television, news broadcasts, and at film festivals. Other major video and film collections include the Alexander Media Services, Inc. and Steve LaRosa Productions, local production companies of feature programs and advertising; KVIE’s "Good Old Days" series; Harold N. Ouye family home movies; and multimedia artist and Sacramento City College professor Darrell Forney.

KCRA-TV Film Collection

Containing over nine million feet of 16mm news film, the KCRA-TV Film Collection documents the work of Sacramento's NBC television affiliate from 1957 to 1982. The collection has been licensed for use in such documentaries as Eyes on the Prize, Chicano!, Berkeley in the Sixties, Fight in the Fields, and America's War on Poverty since its donation to the Center in 1978. While the early footage is limited, coverage of newsworthy events expanded considerably in the 1960s. Noted for their in-depth political coverage, KCRA was the first California station to have a Capitol news bureau. The bulk of the collection contains day-to-day news stories – politics, crime, local events, sports, and human interest stories – occurring in northern California and the Sacramento region

In addition to daily news coverage, KCRA filmed travelogues, specials, documentaries, consumer advocacy investigations, and public service features that aired separately. The station originated the concept of reporters traveling the world to film stories on the everyday life of other cultures, including filming a travelogue series that documented primitive tribes in Africa and South America. Like many local television stations, KCRA staff also produced commercials for local and regional businesses.

KOVR-TV Film Collection

Containing over seven million feet of 16mm news film, the KOVR-TV Film Collection documents the work of Sacramento's then ABC television affiliate from 1967 to 1981. KOVR, with bureaus in both Sacramento and Stockton, focused on events within Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus Counties. KOVR is the oldest continuously operating television station in the Sacramento region having started broadcasting on September 5, 1954.

The KOVR-TV Film Collection arrived at the Center for Sacramento History through a circuitous route. Harry Sweet, a cameraman for Channel 3 KCRA for many years, discovered that Channel 13 KOVR was going to discard their television news film footage, including some news report scripts, and arranged to rescue the material. Mr. Sweet donated the collection to California State University, Sacramento (CSUS) in 1991. CSUS transferred the collection to the Center for Sacramento History in 2016.

Subject Matter of the TV Film Collections

Few film archives cover both regional and national news stories, thus making the KCRA-TV Film Collection and the KOVR-TV Film Collection remarkable in its depth and scope. The recorded footage provides a unique look into a dramatic time period in California.

The following list is suggestive of the subject matter in these collections:

  • Presidential campaigns from 1964 through 1980
  • Robert F. Kennedy's presidential campaign and assassination in 1968
  • Richard Nixon's campaign for governor in 1962
  • Day-to-day coverage of the administrations of Governors Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, Ronald Reagan, and Jerry Brown
  • Day-to-day coverage of the State Assembly and Senate starting in 1962
  • Urban race riots, including the 1966 riots in Oak Park
  • University campus unrest and the anti-war movement in the 1960s and 1970s
  • Black Panthers at the California State Capitol
  • Free Speech Movement
  • César Chávez, Dolores Huerta, the United Farm Workers and the farm labor movement
  • Alaskan oil reserves development
  • Zodiac Killer
  • Patty Hearst and the SLA kidnapping
  • Charles Manson interview with reporter Mike Boyd in 1972
  • The first heart transplant performed in the U.S. at Stanford University Hospital

Currently, the television film collections are not searchable through the CSH catalog. However, some of the most frequently requested footage has already been transferred to archival formats. To see a list of what has been transferred, please download the Video Archive Masters Subject Catalog (pdf).  To view samples of the collections, visit the California Light & Sound database on the Internet Archive for KCRA-TV and KOVR-TV.

To assist researchers, searchable PDF files of the KCRA-TV Daily Film Logs, and the KOVR-TV Monthly Film Logs, may be accessed through the following links:

KCRA-TV Daily Film Logs

KOVR-TV Monthly Film Logs