Cataloging Old Wazzu: AAPB and Northwest Public Television

This post was written by Caitlin Sanders, student at Simmons College and intern at the AAPB.

As a longtime fan of public television (from “Arthur” to “Masterpiece”), and a current graduate student studying archives and library science at Simmons College, I feel fortunate to have spent this past fall as a cataloging intern for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, at the beautiful WGBH studio headquarters. Despite this amazing and surreal experience, being in Boston does not mean I never get homesick for my native state of Washington. Therefore, I was extremely pleased with the project I was assigned: describing videos from Northwest Public Television (KWSU/KTNW), a public broadcasting station associated with Washington State University.

You don’t have to be a “coug” to appreciate archival programming from this station. Content varies from lecture series coverage, to dramatic re-enactments, to concerts and sports coverage. I might also add that its videos of moose (including the famous Morty) and of black bear cubs frolicking about the academic campus are among the most adorable animal videos that I have seen in quite some time.

In all seriousness, the significance of this collection should not be undermined. Alone and together, these videos work to tell the story of Washington state’s past. Difficult subjects, such as the 1979 bombing of the Streit-Perham residence hall, are documented for posterity with forensic footage of the ruined building. Reflections on national disasters, such as the environmental impact of the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens, can be referred to in the event of future catastrophe. Washington State University’s programming is also important in its attempt to include more voices in the presentation of history. Local interviews from the PBS series “Our Neighbors’ Stories” record the experiences of African Americans who worked at the Hanford site as part of the Manhattan Project. Similarly, “South by Northwest: Blacks in the Pacific Northwest” is an earnest attempt to accessibly dramatize the experiences of African Americans as they moved to the Pacific Northwest. Even if the 1976-1981 series occasionally shows its age, it nonetheless stands as a record for a perspective often untold in standard American history classes.

I am proud to announce that these videos are now all cataloged, many can be viewed in the AAPB Online Reading Room, and all of them are available on location at WGBH and the Library of Congress. I encourage you to check them out!

NOW celebrates its 50th anniversary!

This post was written by Andrea Hetley, student at Simmons College and intern at the AAPB.

June 30th, 2016 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the National Organization for Women (NOW) at the Third National Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women. Betty Friedan, one of the founders and the first president of NOW, wrote the name of the organization and its original statement of purpose on a paper napkin during a meeting in her hotel room, creating an organization that would have a profound influence on the second wave feminist movement. The 28 founding members of NOW were inspired to create this organization out of frustration with the failure of the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Title VII prohibited discrimination in employment discrimination on the basis of sex, and the EEOC was formed in 1965 to implement it. However, despite the efforts of commissioners Aileen Hernandez and Richard Graham (both of whom became leader in NOW), the commission voted 3-2 that it was permissible for job advertisements to be segregated by sex. This practice was a significant source of employment discrimination, as it allowed employers to advertise different types of work for men and women. An example of a sex segregated help wanted section can be found here. Note the types of jobs available to men: supervisor, manager, engineer, superintendent, and pharmacist, to name a few. Now note the types of jobs available to women: waitress, bookkeeper, assistant, machine operator, and Office “Gal Friday” are a few examples. The jobs available to women tended to be for positions of a more menial sort, and at lower pay rate. After this decision, Dr. Pauli Murray denounced the EEOC’s decision to continue to allow sex segregated job advertising. Betty Friedan contacted Dr. Murray in support of her position.

In June 1966, hundreds of representatives (including Friedan and Murray) gathered at The Third National Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women, whose theme was “Targets for Action.” Many delegates present had a specific action in mind: the passage of a resolution demanding that the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) fulfill its legal mandate to put an end to sex discrimination in employment. Representatives were told that they had no authority to accomplish this goal, and that they could not even pass a resolution.

Despite this setback, they were determined to put the theme of the conference into action. 15-20 women assembled in Friedan’s hotel room, wrote a draft statement of purpose, and discussed the best way to move forward. By the end of the conference, 28 women had joined creating a new civil rights organization “to take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, assuming all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men.”[i] By October 1966, when NOW held its organizing conference in Washington DC, 300 men and women had become charter members.

Karen DeCrow

NOW went on to work on many important causes, many of which are discussed by Karen DeCrow in this 1974 appearance on the talk show “Woman.” She discusses NOW’s achievements and their goals for political, economic, and social change.

This video, along with many others, will be part of a curated exhibit on women in public media, coming soon to the AAPB website!

Andrea Hetley Profile PictureAndrea Hetley is a graduate student at Simmons SLIS, and an exhibitions intern at the American Archive of Public Broadcasting.



The Tuskegee Airmen

My name is Kathleen Mahoney, and I am a Public History M.A. student at University of Massachusetts Amherst. This past summer, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to assist with cataloging digitized audiovisual content for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. My interest in interning with the AAPB team was twofold. As a Public History M.A. student at UMass Amherst focusing in archives, I am passionate about making historical materials available and accessible to wide audiences. As a student of modern American history, I am interested in how communities in the United States form identity and sense of place. The public media preserved by the AAPB offers unique insight into the culture and history of local communities throughout the country, and I am thankful to have been part of this project! As a dedicated enthusiast of public radio and television, I was excited by the opportunity to work toward preserving and promoting accessibility to this material. Over the summer, I worked on cataloging records from WEDU, a PBS member television station in Tampa, Florida.

Yenwith Whitney, veteran of the Tuskegee Airmen

A 2005 episode of the WEDU television show Gulf Coast Journal features two local veterans of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American military pilots who fought in World War II and served as the first black pilots in American military history. These veterans, Nasby Wynn and Yenwith Whitney, discuss their wartime experiences and their ongoing interest in aviation.

Before 1940, African Americans were prohibited from flying for the U.S. military. However, concern over the threat of war provoked the Roosevelt administration to build a reserve of pilots. Beginning in 1939, the federally authorized Civilian Pilot Training Program provided funding to colleges and universities to expand flight training. The Tuskegee Institute, a black college in Alabama founded by Booker T. Washington, successfully lobbied for funding and opened its doors to aspiring African American pilots in July 1941. “I wish I could tell you how happy I was to get these wings,” recalls Nasby Wynn, brandishing his military aviator badge, “after nine months of training, plus the segregation obstacles we had to hop over.”

Nasby Wynn, veteran of the Tuskegee Airmen

Between 1941 and the end of World War II, 992 pilots completed the Tuskegee Airfield program, and 450 of those pilots served overseas in Europe and North Africa. Yenwith Whitney served as a pilot in the 332nd Fighter Group, flying 34 missions in a P-51 Mustang guiding bombers over Austria and Germany. “It was so exhilarating, so exciting, to feel the pull on that stick,” he remembers. Throughout the war, the Tuskegee Airmen never lost a single bomber to enemy aircraft.

While the U.S. armed forces remained racially segregated through World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen fought with great distinction. In addition to combatting the Axis powers abroad, their bravery was instrumental to combatting racism at home. “It proved that we were normal. We were human beings. We were just as any other,” Wynn states. On March 29, 2007, President Bush and Congress awarded the Tuskegee Airmen the Congressional Gold Medal for fighting to defend the United States in the face of racism. As the population of surviving World War II veterans continues to dwindle, records like these of former soldiers provide invaluable insight into their lived experience.

To watch this segment of Gulf Coast Journal, visit the AAPB Online Reading Room.


This blog post was written by Kathleen Mahoney, graduate student in Public History at University of Massachusetts Amherst and former AAPB Cataloging Intern.

Meet Lily Troia, AAPB Cataloging Intern & Public Media Junkie

The following is a guest post by Lily Troia, AAPB Cataloging Intern.

Exploring the WGBH Vault!
Exploring the WGBH Vault!

Hi. My name is Lily Troia and I am a public media junkie. I will admit, it is a bit of a problem. The first thing I do when traveling to any new town is find the local radio affiliate for my fix of daily news. I frequently cry along to This American Life, sit in my parked car laughing hysterically to Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me’s antics, and I am certain Antiques Roadshow curtailed more than one family fight over the remote during my childhood.

I blame my mom and dad, ultimately, for a northern Wisconsin upbringing entrenched in public media. In the expanse of the rural Northwoods, commercial radio and static occupied most of the airwaves, with one local NPR-affiliate, WOJB, broadcast off a nearby Ojibwe reservation, serving as a beacon of independent thought and music for our small community. Cable was a luxury not yet accessible to remote country residents in the 1980s, and since my back-to-the-lander family couldn’t entertain the idea of a satellite dish, our viewing options included only NBC and PBS, with the occasional blurry-screened ABC when snowmobile traffic was reduced (seriously). Thus, I was the kid carrying my parents’ Wisconsin Public Television member tote bag to the summer pool, raised on a diet of Sesame Street, Square One, and 3-2-1 Contact in an era of Nickelodeon.

Decades later I found myself collaborating professionally with Minnesota Public Radio and Twin Cities Public Television on a regular basis. A classical music performer throughout my youth, I studied ethnomusicology at Northwestern University, yet felt disconnected from the cloistered world of academia, and eventually turned my musical interests to the business world. While running my own music management firm in Minneapolis, I produced numerous live and recorded projects, and frequently contributed content to MPR as a music and arts culture commentator. These experiences further solidified my lifelong love of and dedication to public media. Now back in school, pursuing a Masters in Library and Information Science at Simmons College, I have the unique opportunity to apply my music and humanities background in the arena of preservation and access, synthesizing my passion for scholarship and public service.

Life occasionally delivers instances of perfect serendipity; joining the American Archive of Public Broadcasting feels like such an instance. It truly is a professional dream to work on such a socially vital, dynamic project. Already in my brief time cataloging archival content from member stations across the country, I have learned about an influx of Mexican immigrants to Wyoming in the 1990s, listened to a decades-old KUT broadcast featuring Eliza Gilkyson, and discovered that Oregon hipster culture began long before Portlandia, in the form of a 1985 municipally-sponsored beard-growing contest. In a time when public media is forced to fight for basic funding–my Wisconsin stations are currently facing potential demise–ensuring the longevity and availability of this immeasurably valuable, cultural material has never been more important. What an inspiration to be at an organization like WGBH, committed to protecting and providing access to these historical gems that document our diverse American stories.

Preserving History

This past January I arrived at WGBH to start an internship cataloging digitized video and audio materials from the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. As a first-year graduate student at the Simmons College School of Library and Information Science, I had limited experience with cataloging (although my mother is a cataloger, so you could say I’m genetically predisposed!). But when I heard about the available internship at WGBH, I was excited by the opportunity to both get real world cataloging experience and explore the archives of public broadcasting–since, like many librarians, I am a devoted fan of public television and radio.

After reviewing AAPB’s cataloging guidelines and completing a set of practice records, each cataloging intern at WGBH chooses from a list of public television and radio stations that have digitized materials ready for cataloging. I jumped at the chance to catalog the audio assets from WFCR. WFCR was “my” public radio station for the four years I lived in Western Massachusetts, and I listened to hours of its programming during my commutes to and from work.

In the weeks that I’ve been working on this audio collection, I’ve cataloged a wide range of radio programs and raw footage from the 1960s through the 1980s. I’ve cataloged lectures on family farming, civil rights, and the Vietnam War; poetry readings by Robert Frost and Anne Halley; and folk, jazz, and classical concerts held at the area colleges. My heart even skipped a beat when I happened upon Betty Friedan’s 1981 Commencement address at my alma mater, Smith College. But the footage that has been the most interesting to me is the collection of raw footage and news segments about what has been called the “Amherst College takeover” of 1970.

In the early morning of February 18, 1970, representatives of the African American student associations from Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Amherst Colleges and the University of Massachusetts occupied four buildings on Amherst’s campus, in protest of the treatment of African American students by the four colleges. The students vacated the buildings later that day, but their actions started a discussion that would lead to changes at all four institutions.

The Amherst College takeover was an important event in the history of the Five Colleges, yet very little information about it exists that is accessible to the general public. Now, thanks to WFCR and the AAPB, its legacy has been preserved. In the AAPB, you can find footage of press conferences, interviews with students and administrators, and even news segments detailing the events of the day, such as the clip below.

To me, this example perfectly illustrates the importance of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting and of the work that we are doing as catalogers. Even as an intern, I am helping to provide access to materials that will be valuable sources for research and education in the future.

IMG_1147This post was written by Anna Newman, intern for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting at WGBH.

Voices of Minnesota with Sara Evans and Rosalie Wahl

This summer I’ve had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with a lot of the content that’s been digitized for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. It’s full of gems, and I’m so excited about the possibilities that it offers for discovery, research and education! When I opted to share a clip from Minnesota Public Radio‘s “Voices of Minnesota”, I learned that MPR was equally excited about re-discovering their content and sharing this program.

The program includes interviews with Sara M. Evans, a pioneer in the development of women’s studies movement in American, and former justice Rosalie Wahl, the first woman to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court. The interviewers themselves have each shared an introduction below, and you can listen to the program here: Voices of Minnesota with Sara Evans and Rosalie Wahl.

I’m looking forward to learning how MPR and other stations might re-discover and re-purpose their content now that it’s preserved in a new context, alongside an array of valuable stories in the AAPB! Enjoy!

Executive Editor and Host of American RadioWorks and former MPR reporter, Stephen Smith, who interviewed Sara Evans:

Historian Sara Evans was influential in establishing the field of Women’s Studies in the American academy. She started teaching in the 1970s, when there were relatively few female historians at American colleges and universities and when the study of women in history was considered a fringe discipline.

Evans says she was part of a new generation of scholars in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s who were inspired by the women’s movement to revolutionize historical practice. She is the author of six books, including Born for Liberty: A History of American Women and Tidal Wave: How Women Changed America at Century’s End. I interviewed Evans on a summer day in 1995 in the living room of her home near the University of Minnesota, where she has taught since 1976.

American RadioWorks Producer and former MPR reporter, Catherine Winter, who interviewed Justice Rosalie Wahl:

When Rosalie Wahl started law school in 1962, there was only one other woman in her class at William Mitchell College of Law. There weren’t any women on the judicial bench in Minnesota.

Thirty-two years later, when she retired from the Minnesota Supreme Court, a majority of that court was female, and women were serving as district court judges throughout the state. Justice Wahl had blazed a trail.

Wahl is best remembered for being the first woman on the Minnesota Supreme Court. But her appointment in 1977 was remarkable not just because she was female. Wahl had an unusual legal background for a court appointee at the time. She hadn’t come up through the ranks of a prestigious law firm or held political office or worked for the state attorney general. She had been a public defender.

Wahl was a champion of the underdog. She had a deep commitment to social justice. In this interview, she talks about living in an interracial house when she was in college in the 1940s. She tells how she and her housemates participated in sit-ins at cafes and movie theaters and “swim-ins” at the pool.

Wahl’s interest in protecting the rights of the downtrodden and in ensuring equal treatment for all was reflected in her time on the bench. While on the Supreme Court, she led a task force on gender fairness in the courts and a task force on racial bias in the judicial system. She also wrote opinions that championed equal treatment under law. In one famous ruling she authored, the court said the state could not impose more severe penalties on crack cocaine than on powder cocaine, because the effect of such laws was to penalize black people more severely than white people.

In this interview with Minnesota Public Radio, she talks about the excitement of being part of a growing movement of women in the law, and about how much has changed – and not changed – when it comes to fairness to women and to African American people in the legal system.

She also shares some poetry. Justice Wahl had a longstanding interest in poetry. She’d kept that side of herself fairly private, but in this interview she reads several of her poems.

Listen to the program:

This post was written by Bryce Roe, intern for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting at WGBH. Interview introductions by Stephen Smith, Executive Editor and Host of American RadioWorks, and Catherine Winter, American RadioWorks Producer. 


Meet American Archive Intern Bryce Roe

Hello, my name is Bryce and I’m excited to be a part of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting team at WGBH this summer! Like the wonderful previous interns, Alyson and Bill, who paved the way for me (nice work guys!), I am a Simmons LIS graduate student specializing in Archives Management.

I first became interested in archives as an undergraduate musicology student, where much of my research time was spent searching for relevant sound and video recordings in the conservatory. I adamantly sought the use of these recordings as a more experiential avenue for learning beyond the text. In addition to animating my research, working with AV materials in the archives also quickly taught me that I was more interested in the recordings themselves than in synthesizing my projects. I became more motivated by questions of how we assign and derive meaning from sounds and moving images and how we preserve and enable these materials to continually invite new experiences.

I am anxious to tackle these questions and help people do research with sound and video. I love learning what sparks people’s interests and strategizing how to facilitate access to the materials that will help them most. It’s very cool to think that historians and archeologists of the future will be able to hear and see us (hopefully with a lot less digging?)! I ultimately hope to broaden the formats and voices embraced by archival practices as well as the kinds of research we do with them, and WGBH is the perfect place to learn!

Below I’ve shared a clip from the American Archive collection that I was personally thrilled to discover. It is from an interview and rehearsal with the late jazz composer and pianist Dave Brubeck as he prepares to perform a 50th anniversary concert at my alma mater, Oberlin College.

The celebrated original performance took place on March 2, 1953, in the campus’ Finney Chapel, where Brubeck and his quartet (Paul Desmond, alto sax; Lloyd David, drums; Ron Crotty, bass) famously introduced jazz to a whole new audience outside of the nightclub – the American undergraduate. Previously, jazz wasn’t even allowed to be played in most conservatory practice rooms, let alone on a concert stage. A few students rounded up the cash themselves to invite Brubeck, who was given a shoddy piano to perform on by the faculty, but a warm welcome from the audience.

In addition to launching Brubeck’s career, the performance helped inspire the now world-renowned jazz program at Oberlin. To our great fortune, the performance was also recorded by the college radio station, WOBC, resulting in the landmark album Jazz at Oberlin. Though I’d listened to hundreds of albums previously, as an undergraduate student learning about the history of jazz at Oberlin, this recording incited an appreciation for the enduring value of historical sounds for my research and enjoyment. The audience’s excitement during this initiation is audible, and you can sense their embrace of the new sounds.

The clip below offers Dave Brubeck’s fond recollection of the night that changed his career and jazz in American. Enjoy! 

This post was written by Bryce Roe, intern for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting at WGBH.

Meet American Archive Intern Alyson Musser

The American Archive team at WGBH is sincerely grateful to our intern Alyson Musser for all of the work she is accomplishing this semester. With the approval of several stations, we have started to add enhanced descriptions for digital files in the American Archive collection. Alyson is the first intern to be taking on this huge task, and her work will be extremely helpful to users seeking to discover materials when the collection is made available.

Hello, my name is Alyson Musser and I am an intern here at WGBH for the American Archive. I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Simmons College, with a concentration in Archives Management.  I have a B.A. in History from Cornell University, and I am a huge fan of Downton Abbey.

American Archive Intern Alyson Musser
American Archive Intern Alyson Musser

As an intern, I have been going through the digitized materials in the AMS and adding descriptive information to the records.  So far, the most exciting part of working with the American Archive has been the chance to see some of my favorite historical figures in action. These include, but are not limited to: Eleanor Roosevelt, Julia Child, Dwight Eisenhower, Peter Jennings and John F. Kennedy.

In the 1960’s Eleanor Roosevelt hosted the series “Prospects of Mankind,” which aired on WGBH. The series featured Eleanor hosting panel discussions on pertinent issues of the day. In this episode, Eleanor travelled to the White House to discuss the status of women with JFK. 

Eleanor Roosevelt Interviews JFK from American Archive on Vimeo.

The American Archive also includes more recent television footage, such as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Law, aired by Illinois Public Media (WILL) in 1994.  In the speech, Justice Ginsberg blends her insight and wit to trace the history of U.S. legal education. Similar to JFK above, she also discusses the importance of promoting gender equality.

I am looking forward to spending more time with the American Archive collection, and finding more public history treasures to share.

Evacuation Day in Boston

As the host of WGBH Journal, Bill Cavness, put it 36 years ago, “Today is not just St. Patrick’s Day.  In Boston, schools, banks and other public offices are closed because it is Evacuation Day.  Evacuation Day commemorates the final departure of the British from Boston in 1776 during the American Revolutionary War.”

Have a listen to this clip found in the American Archive for Public Broadcasting and learn about why the British troops left Boston and how Evacuation Day became a holiday.

Written and edited by Bill Nehring, American Archive intern at WGBH.


Meet American Archive Intern Bill Nehring

Hello.  My name is Bill Nehring. I am an intern for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting at WGBH and I am writing to introduce myself.  I am currently a student in the Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science with a concentration in Archives Management and I am most interested in moving image archives.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help the American Archive of Public Broadcasting because I believe wholeheartedly in its mission to preserve American public radio and television programming and make it available for years to come.

My exposure to public television parallels my earliest childhood memories.  I grew up in New Jersey, but every summer I would spend a few weeks of my school vacation with my grandparents in New Hampshire. Among the highlights of those visits were the days I spent on my great-grandparents farm.  My great-grandmother, Nan, was a terrific baker, painter and keen observer of nature. We would spend hours looking through our magnifying glasses at insects or walking the old stone walls in her apple orchard, but when it was time for the Macneil/Lehrer Report (and later the Macneil/Lehrer Newshour) we dropped what we were doing and went inside. Nan would “fix” me a glass of Tang and we’d watch the news together. She would do her best to explain what the stories were about, and without fail she would praise the show’s format because they spent “more time on the stories that matter” and “don’t waste our time with those infernal ads!”  For me, if Nan liked it, I liked it too.

It wasn’t until after I graduated from Monmouth College with a dual degree in History and Education that I got hooked on NPR. My first job after college was as a cataloger at the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation (now the USC Shoah Foundation).  The Shoah Foundation collected over 50,000 videotaped interviews with Holocaust survivors. The cataloging staff was tasked with watching the interviews, adding time codes that marked the start and end points of subject-based segments, applying “keywords” from a controlled vocabulary of descriptive terms and summarizing each segment as well as the entire testimony.  It was pretty heady stuff and pretty heavy content.  This is when the seed of becoming an archivist was planted for me, and it was during my commute to and from work on the parched freeways of Los Angeles that I discovered the vibrant and informative programing of NPR over the airwaves of KCRW and KPCC

NPR programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, On Point, On The Media, The World, Science Friday, and Marketplace as well as PBS shows such as The Newshour, Frontline, Nova, The American Experience, Charlie Rose and Tavis Smiley have been the lens through which I have learned about and reflected upon the major events of my adult life.

Public broadcasting is also one of the places I go to first for entertainment. Shows like Austin City Limits, Nature, This Old House and Masterpiece on PBS as well as Morning Becomes Eclectic, Car Talk, This American Life, The Vinyl Café (CBC show) and A Celtic Sojourn on NPR keep me laughing and tapping my toes.

So, although you wouldn’t know it by the amount I contribute during pledge drives (blush), I am an unabashed zealot for public broadcasting. I am that seemingly strange guy with a grin and a faraway look sitting in his car in the grocery store parking lot (I’m probably trying to catch all of the unofficial sponsors of Car Talk. “Ornithology Expert, Luke A. Boyd. Figure Skating Coach, Landon McKeaster. Air Traffic Controller, Ulanda U. Lucky.” I love those!). I am also soon to be an archivist who recognizes that the programs public broadcasting has created over the past 60 years are an invaluable historical record that must be preserved.

As an intern I will help develop description guidelines that will help future interns navigate the AMS and PBCore metadata, create examples of the PBCore elements that will help users understand how to implement the metadata standard, ingest new material into the AMS and help develop guidelines for stations who are contributing material and write blog posts featuring highlights from the AAPB collection.

I look forward to working with you all.  See you again in future blog posts!


Bill Nehring
Master’s Candidate, Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science
American Archive of Public Broadcasting Intern, Spring 2014