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Lynn Corcoran, In Our Own Backyard: The First Love Canal collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0158

Scope and Contents

Collection contains a portion of the original 3/4 inch U-matic video footage shot for the documentary In Our Own Backyard: The First Love Canal which includes material not in the final production. Footage includes:

  1. exteriors of the homes before they were torn down, with some context of the streets and the area;
  2. various public events, meetings, and media events of the Love Canal Homeowners' Association including the day the homeowners took EPA officials "hostage" and the EPA agreed to temporary relocation, and several lively public meetings in which homeowners confronted public officials;
  3. press conferences held by public officials;
  4. interviews conducted with public officials, Lois Gibbs, various homeowner activists, Bev Paigen (the chief scientific adviser and advocate), and others.

Also included is file footage from WGR and WNED television stations. Inventory log includes detailed notes on each tape's contents.


  • 1979-1982


Language of Materials

Collection material in English.

Terms of Access

Lynn Corcoran In Our Own Backyard: The First Love Canal collection, 1979-1982, is open for research.

The media recordings may only be accessed onsite within the library at this time with 3-5 business days advanced notice. Please contact the University Archives at for more information.


Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the University Archives before publishing quotations from or reproducing materials in the collection. Please see archivist for details on obtaining copyright permission.

Biographical Note

Lynn Corcoran began making documentaries in 1974. Her independently-produced work has examined the relationships between citizens and government in areas including community renewal, health care, housing and the environment. Documentaries about the environment include In Our Own Backyard, which chronicles events at Love Canal and examines how citizen and government participants viewed the central issues the disaster raised. Testing the Waters considers the complex international effort to chart a future for the polluted Niagara River, at the US - Canada border. Borderline Cases is a view of the effort to repair the environmental damage at the US - Mexico border that resulted from rapid, unregulated industrialization -- the building of nearly 2,000 foreign-owned factories, or maquiladoras.

Corcoran’s work has been broadcast nationally on PBS and on TLC (The Learning Channel) and it has received awards including a Blue Ribbon at the American Film Festival, a Cine Golden Eagle, Best of Category at the Audubon Environmental Film Festival, and awards from the Athens Film and Video Festival and the US Film and Video Festival.

Her independently - produced documentaries have been supported by grants from the New York Council for the Humanities, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Beldon Foundation, and the US/Mexico Fund for Culture / Fideicomiso para la Cultura México/USA, (Rockefeller Foundation). She has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the New York Creative Artists Fellowship Program.

She produced 65 one-hour programs of The Frontier, a nationally-distributed series featuring the work of independent filmmakers and videomakers, for the Buffalo - Toronto PBS affiliate, WNED-TV. She has been a Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Media Study at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, and has lectured and conducted workshops throughout the country. Since 1978, she has worked as a video producer, director and editor of independent and commercial productions.

Historical Note

Lynn Corcoran produced the documentary In Our Own Backyard: The First Love Canal in 1982. Copyright and distribution rights are held by Bullfrog Films, Inc., Oley, Pennsylvania 19547. The documentary aired on Public Broadcast System (PBS) stations. The container notes give this synopsis:

A brilliant video documentary on the nation's first encounter with toxic waste, it provides a complete and moving account of the way the people involved, both in government and in the community, responded to a frightening situation.

It shows the complexity of the democratic process in action, as government officials struggled with a new set of questions -- weighing not only what government should do, but what it could do in the first environmental emergency of its kind -- while residents formed their own views of these questions and developed strategies including public protest and a skillful use of the media to influence government's response.

The following awards followed:

  1. Blue Ribbon, American Film Festival
  2. Best of Category, Audubon International Environmental Film Festival
  3. Third Place Award, U.S. Film and Video Festival
  4. Merit Award, Athens International Film and Video Festival
  5. Honorable Mention, Global Village 8th Annual Documentary Festival


5 Linear Feet (5 cartons containing 75 videocassettes)


A portion of the original video footage shot for the PBS documentary, "In Our Own Backyard," produced by Lynn Corcoran, with detailed tape log notes.


This collection is arranged in two series: I. Inventory logs and tapes and II. Videotapes.

Acquisition Information

Collection was donated by Lynn Corcoran, November 2009.

Accruals and Additions

No further accruals are expected to this collection.

Materials Specific Details

3/4 inch U-matic videotapes

Processing Information

Processed by Karen Spencer, April 2010. Finding aid updated by Jessica Hollister and Sarah Cogley, November 2022.


Finding Aid for the Lynn Corcoran, In Our Own Backyard: The First Love Canal collection
Finding aid prepared by Karen Spencer.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

420 Capen Hall
Buffalo New York 14260-1674 US
716-645-3714 (Fax)