It takes $$ to be an archivist

Most of the social documentary areas I work in as an archivist are not that bad on the budget. An archivist can usually find material at yard sales or swap meets for a few dollars. eBay is another source of affordable material to collect. Even films (short subject 16mm – not feature) can generally be had for $25 – $45 each. For slightly rarer films the price may be a few hundred dollars each. But the issue with film work is generally not the price of the film, it is the scanning cost to digitize the film which can be very high.

If the material is unaffordable or the seller wont sell, I try to buy scans / photos of it. But even with scans and photos, collecting can be very pricey for underground material. Here are a couple of recent examples where I could not afford the actual material, so I tried to collect digitally.

White Power is in the news constantly nowadays. There is not much online archiving the early days of this movement. I came across a book seller with an almost complete collection of White Power newspapers from the 1970s – 1980s.

The book seller did not have the collection up for sale. He mentioned he had sold a few dupes in the past for $70 to $100 each, but had no interest in selling the collection. I had offered him $10 for a cell phone photo of the front page of each newspaper. A cell phone photo of each front page would have cost me about $750. The bookseller didn’t even reply to my offer.

Another interesting collection opportunity came up on eBay for an archive of ephemera for the Church of Satan. The material was vintage and rare. Anything related to Anton LeVey (founder of the Church of Satan) is highly sought after.

The final sale price was too much for me to ever consider unless the lotto cooperated, so I wrote the lady and asked if she wanted to sell scans of the collection for $400. I also offered the possibility of her just taking cell phone photos of it, if scanning was not practical. She replied she had no interest in selling scans or photos. In such a case all I can do is to archive the auction.

A gal once asked me why I am so broke all the time. You can see how easily $$ gets spent with just these 2 examples. And this is just for trying to buy some crappy digital photos of the material…not the actual material. The other part of the equation is; there is not much profit in running an open content archive. In fact, you pay to do it, no one pays you. But the benefit of working like that is freedom. You can collect any material you like even if it is not profitable. And you don’t have to worry about the haters canceling you and losing sponsors or donators.


Daniel D.Teoli Jr. Archival Collection
Daniel D.Teoli Jr. Small Gauge Film Archive
Daniel D.Teoli Jr. Advertising Archive
Daniel D.Teoli Jr. VHS Video Archive
Daniel D.Teoli Jr. Audio Archive
Daniel D.Teoli Jr. Social Documentary Photography

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