October 9, 2006

Charles Harmon Director of University Relations

Journalist and Alumnus Ed Lightsey donates historic news film toVSU during Georgia Archives Week

A dive into a garbage-filled dumpster by a television anchorman some 30 years ago has led to a "treasure trove of film" to the archives of the Odum Library on the campus of Valdosta State University. (That's how Ed Lightsey, senior correspondent for Georgia Trend Magazine wrote the first sentence of this release.)

"It's true," said Valdosta native Lightsey, a television anchorman and reporter at WALB-TV, Albany, from the late 1960's to 1980. Lightsey attended Valdosta State College in the late 1960's.

"The mid 1970's marked the transition from film to tape in local news coverage, and so one day at that time I spotted the film librarian at WALB tossing a decade of film into the dumpster behind the station to make room for new videos," said Lightsey. He added, "I knew there was some historic film in there so I took off my jacket and tie and climbed in chest deep and started going down in there like a pearl diver to retrieve those treasures." Lightsey said he ended up covered in garbage and grease and emitting an almost visible odor but with over a hundred reels of film.

The film, Lightsey said, contains a pictorial history of South Georgia during the 1960's and 1970's.

"It is as mundane as a county commissioner explaining a tax increase and as fascinating as the black and white film from the 60's depicting a young Sumter County school board member named Jimmy Carter square-dancing with his wife."

VSU Archivist Deborah Davis says a total of 122 reels of film are included in the Lightsey Collection.

"This is an important collection for its documentation of Georgia, and specifically South Georgia political and media history. We are very proud of this important acquisition," said Davis, adding that the donation will come during Georgia Archives Week. She said the collection includes early footage of Jimmy Carter, Governor Carl Sanders, and even coverage of the Alday tragedy.

"We will have an official signing to take possession of this collection on Tuesday, October 10 on the fourth floor of the Odum Library at 10 a.m. and the public is invited to attend," said Davis. She added that Ed Lightsey will be present to speak on the history of WALB and television in South Georgia, and sign copies of his book Flashback: The First 50 Years of WALB-TV. Lightsey has continued to cover Georgia through his role as Senior Correspondent for Georgia Trend.

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