It is perhaps not surprising that those of us who work at the NYC Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS) see the value in the services we perform preserving the records of City government and helping communities connect with that material. In a more recent development, many colleagues are extending the agency’s mission into organizations and communities across New York City. The agency is grappling with how to improve accessibility to the Archives and Library holdings, and reaching out to various communities. So it makes sense to look to members of our team for inspiration—people who are engaging with public history and living the mission through their volunteer work and extracurricular pursuits.
From urban decay to economic revival, the City of New York has changed dramatically over the past forty years. Over that same period of time, New Yorkers gained an increasing ability to tell their stories through advances in video technology. Today, we take for granted a nearly universal ability to create and distribute videos all over the world, instantaneously. From 1961 to 1996, publicly owned WNYC-TV on Channel 31 fulfilled this role for average New Yorkers by enabling them to share their stories and discuss issues facing them in their daily lives.