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Virgil Q. Wacks Collection


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Adminstrative Information

Detailed Description

35mm Motion Picture Film


Community Events

News Events


Parks and Recreation

Regional and Rural

Coal Mining Companies

Mine Rescue Training

West Virginia


Friends and Family

Miscellaneous and Reference

Audio Recordings


Contact us about this collection

Virgil Q. Wacks Collection, 1942-1986 | Archives of Appalachia

By Bradley Reeves, John Fleenor, Dusty Hibbs, and Samantha Frye

[Printer Friendly] | [Contact us about this collection]

Collection Overview

Title: Virgil Q. Wacks Collection, 1942-1986Add to your cart.

ID: 500/AppMs 569

Creator: Wacks, Virgil Q. (1906-1994)

Extent: 1816.0 Motion pictures. More info below.

Arrangement: The collection is arranged in 14 series as follows:
Series 1, 35mm Motion Picture Film, 1948-1982, Film Clips 1-8,
Series 2, Festivals, 1955-1986, Film clips 9-95,
Series 3, Community Events, 1943-1984, Film clips 96-328 and Film clips 1808-1811 Addendum,
Series 4, News Events, 1955-1983, Film clips 329-375,
Series 5, Sports, 1942-1981, Film clips 376-439,
Series 6, Parks and Recreation, 1955-1981, Film clips 440-581,
Series 7, Regional and Rural, 1942-1981, Film clips 582-639,
Series 8, Coal Mining Companies, 1971-1983, Film clips 640-722,
Series 9, Mine Rescue Training, 1958-1984, Film clips 723-753,
Series 10, West Virginia, 1972-1980, Film clips 754-762,
Series 11, Business, 1953-1984, Film clips 763-1730,
Series 12, Friends and Family, 1972-1983, Film clips 1731-1760, and Film clips 1812-1816 Addendum,
Series 13, Miscellaneous and Reference, 1956-1980, Film clips 1761-807,
Series 14, Audio Recordings, 1969-1975, Tapes 1-4.
Series 15: Certificate

The films have been arranged alphabetically by state and town within each series, and then further arranged chronologically by subject matter, date and year within each series. Dates were taken from information provided by Wacks on the original film boxes. When no date was available, the Kodak edge codes on the motion picture film were used to approximately date the film, although actual filming may have taken place at a later date. Unidentified footage is placed at the end of each series. Motion picture film donated by Quinton Wacks after processing was included in two addendums.

Each reel of motion picture film was arranged chronologically on a core. The cores were then transferred to Beta SP videotape for preservation masters, and VHS videotape for public access copies. There are a total of 70 Beta Sp masters and VHS copies. Film clips 1, 2,139,316,627, and 639 have been preserved through a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation and can be found on Videotape 69 in both digital and analog copies.

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Virgil Q. Wacks Collection contains approximately 1,816 reels and clips of motion picture film produced between 1942 and 1986. The collection also includes four audiotape recordings of musical performances, interviews, and business advertisement spots. The film collection documents the people, businesses, and towns of the Appalachian region and beyond. Western North Carolina, southeast Kentucky, East Tennessee, and southwest Virginia are regions represented in the collection. The collection provides a visual documentation of almost half a century of Appalachian lifestyles, traditions, and customs.

In addition to the motion picture film, the collection contains a videotape of the only known surviving complete example of the “Virgil Q. Wacks Varieties Show”. The program was taped off-the-air in 1982, at WKPT-TV in Kingsport, Tennessee. The collection also contains a videotape copy of “Mountain Vision”, an Appalshop documentary focusing on regional television programming in Appalachia. The production features a segment on the “Virgil Q. Wacks Varieties Show” and includes an interview with Wacks.

The majority of the films in this collection were shot in the 16mm gauge and aired on the “Virgil Q. Wacks Varieties” television program. Examples of earlier pre-television footage produced in the professional 35mm gauge are included in this collection. These 35mm films were produced for theatrical screenings in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The films document parades, festivals, and businesses located in Harlan, Ky, Jonesville,Va, and Pennington Gap, Va.

Preservation material includes 70 Beta SP analog masters and VHS access copies. The collection also includes 3 ¼ reel to reel audiotape analog preservation masters and 3 compact disc digital preservation masters of audio material.

Biographical Note

Virgil Q. Wacks was born May1, 1906 in St. Charles, Virginia. He was one of two children born to William B. Wacks of St. Charles, Virginia and Allie Harber Wacks, formerly of Hubbard Springs, Virginia. Golden Wacks, a sister, was born seven years later. In 1946, Virgil Wacks married Jauree Elizabeth McElroy of Jonesville, Virginia. They moved to Pennington Gap, Virginia in 1952, where they raised two sons, Quinton and Mitchel.

Wacks spent his formative years in St. Charles, Virginia and graduated from Lee Baptist Institute. He won a scholarship in baseball to Bluefield College and later played semi-pro baseball. He became the mayor of St. Charles, Virginia in 1931. During this period he received his diploma in cinematography from the New York School of Photography and worked as a stringer, correspondent, and staffer for various newspapers and wire services, including United Press International (UPI) and Associated Press (AP). In addition to these duties, Wacks was associate editor of the Powell Valley News. His stories on “Bouncing Bertha”, a Lee County girl bedeviled by the supernatural, and snake handlers ran in Life, Look, and Newsweek magazines. He covered the 1940 Rose Bowl and screen- tested for a major motion picture film studio during a stay in Hollywood, California. Wacks served as Commissioner for the Mountain States Professional Baseball League from 1946 to 1954.

During the 1950s, Wacks became increasingly involved in the Lee County region as both businessman and organizer. He owned the Lee Block Company, ran the Lee County Fair for 16 years, and organized the Lee County Tobacco Festival. As president of the Lee County Chamber of Commerce, he brought several businesses into the county such as the tobacco warehouses, the Cas Walker Supermart, the Pennington Airport, and various small factories. During this time, Wacks was active in many civic and political efforts and was a Mason.

From 1957 to 1983, Wacks hosted a popular long- running weekly television program, “The Virgil Q. Wacks Varieties Show”, which aired on local television stations WJHL (Johnson City, Tenn.), and WKPT (Kingsport, Tenn.), and WLEX in Lexington, Ky. This program spotlighted community events within small towns in western North Carolina, southeast Kentucky, East Tennessee, and southwest Virginia. The program also functioned as an advertising tool for area businesses. In addition to his television program, Wacks served as a sportscaster and announcer on radio for several decades.

Although Mr. Wacks retired from television at the age of 78, he continued to remain active as a promoter for the Lee County area and was involved in various projects. Wacks’ health began to decline in the early 1990s and he passed away in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, June 24, 1994, at the age of 88

Administrative Information

Accruals: Additions were added to the collection on December 11, 2000, May 3, 2001, March 5, 2002, and March 11, 2005.

Alternate Extent Statement: 1,816 reels of motion picture film, 1 Beta SP videotape, 1 VHS videotape, 1 DVD, 3 ¼ reel to reel audio tapes, and 1 cassette audiotape.

Access Restrictions: The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: Dr. Quinton Wacks retains all literary rights to this collection until January 30, 2010. At this date all literary rights will transfer to the Archives of Appalachia at East Tennessee State University. Any request for commercial use of these films will be referred to Dr. Wacks.

Acquisition Method: The Virgil Q. Wacks Collection was donated to the Archives of Appalachia on September 27, 2000 by Dr. Quinton Wacks, of Harrogate, Tennessee, and Mitchel R.Wacks,of Knoxville, Tennessee, sons of Virgil Q. Wacks.

Processing Information: Bradley Reeves, John Fleenor, Dusty Hibbs, and Samantha Frye completed processing the collection in December 2004, and the collection was opened for research.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: 35mm Motion Picture Film, 1948-1982],
[Series 2: Festivals, 1955-1986],
[Series 3: Community Events, 1943-1984],
[Series 4: News Events, 1955-1983],
[Series 5: Sports, 1942-1981],
[Series 6: Parks and Recreation, 1955-1981],
[Series 7: Regional and Rural, 1942-1981],
[Series 8: Coal Mining Companies, 1971-1983],
[Series 9: Mine Rescue Training, 1958-1984],
[Series 10: West Virginia, 1972-1980],
[Series 11: Business, 1953-1984],
[Series 12: Friends and Family, 1972-1983],
[Series 13: Miscellaneous and Reference, 1956-1980],
[Series 14: Audio Recordings, 1969-1975],
[Series 15: Certificate],

Series 14: Audio Recordings, 1969-1975Add to your cart.
Audiotapes 1-4.

Series 14 consists of audiotape recordings. The recordings include performances by Harlan, Kentucky singer Marion Cawood of Harlan, Ky, and the Clear Creek Baptist Church Men’s Choir from Pineville, Ky. Also in the series are advertisements for Dotson Chevrolet in Big Stone Gap, Va and commentary by Norton High School Black Raiders football coach James Dotson.

Due to the small amount of audiotapes in series 14, these recordings have not been arranged in any particular order.

Note: ¼ reel to reel audiotape analog and digital compact disc preservation masters were produced from the original masters. Audiotapes 1 and 2 are combined on one master.
Audiotape 1: Norton Black Raiders Commentary with Coach James Dotson, Circa 1975Add to your cart.
Comments by Norton High School football coach James Dotson.
Audiotape 2: Dotson Chevrolet Ads, Circa 1975Add to your cart.
Advertisements for Dotson Chevrolet dealership in Big Stone Gap, VA.
Audiotape 3: Clear Creek Baptist Church Men's Choir, 1/23/1975Add to your cart.
Musical performance by the Clear Creek Baptist Church Men’s Choir in Pineville, KY.
Audiotape 4: Marion Cawood Performance, 9/9/1969Add to your cart.
Music performance by Marion Cawood of Harlan, KY.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: 35mm Motion Picture Film, 1948-1982],
[Series 2: Festivals, 1955-1986],
[Series 3: Community Events, 1943-1984],
[Series 4: News Events, 1955-1983],
[Series 5: Sports, 1942-1981],
[Series 6: Parks and Recreation, 1955-1981],
[Series 7: Regional and Rural, 1942-1981],
[Series 8: Coal Mining Companies, 1971-1983],
[Series 9: Mine Rescue Training, 1958-1984],
[Series 10: West Virginia, 1972-1980],
[Series 11: Business, 1953-1984],
[Series 12: Friends and Family, 1972-1983],
[Series 13: Miscellaneous and Reference, 1956-1980],
[Series 14: Audio Recordings, 1969-1975],
[Series 15: Certificate],

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