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.


American Archive Ceremony & “The Atlantic” articles

On February 10, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting hosted an event celebrating the American Archive, which took place in the marvelous Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress. The ceremony featured speeches by CPB’s President and CEO Patricia Harrison, Librarian of Congress Dr. James Billington, WGBH’s President and CEO Jon Abbott, and Senator Ed Markey. Check out CPB’s photo gallery of the event on their Facebook page: Earlier that day, the American Archive teams from WGBH and the Library of Congress met in a day-long meeting to discuss our progress on the current project as well as plans for moving forward.

Over the past couple of months, the American Archive team has collaborated with Senior Associate Editor of The Atlantic Becca Rosen (@beccarosen) on a series of online articles spotlighting the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, which launched in conjunction with the American Archive ceremony.

The Atlantic series began with an introduction and overview of the project (and had more than 6,000 Facebook shares!), which you can read here: The Race to Save America’s Public-Media History.

Below are links to the articles that have since followed, each featuring a clip from the collection contributed by a participating station:

1. Listen to the Boston Symphony Orchestra Stop a Performance to Announce JFK’s Assassination

2. Thurgood Marshall: The Constitution Had to Be ‘Corrected’

3. Patty Griffin, Before Anyone Had Heard of Her

4. Julia Child ‘Edits’ Videotape

5. Eleanor Roosevelt Talks to John F. Kennedy About the Status of Women in Society

6. Not Exactly Jimmy Fallon

7. Newly Digitized Footage Reveals an RFK Speech One Week Before His Assassination

8. Beyond ‘the Dream’: The Lesser Known Moments of the March on Washington

9. Video: Ronald Reagan’s Press Conference After ‘Bloody Thursday’

10. A Glimpse Into 1970s Gay Activism

11. The Courir de Mardi Gras 

Three more articles will be published as part of the series, and we will add links to each of those on the page above titled “Media.”

This post was written by Casey E. Davis, Project Manager for the AAPB at WGBH.Casey-headshot

WBEZ Radio Interview with American Archive Project Director Karen Cariani

WBEZ‘s The Morning Shift interviewed our American Archive Project Director and WGBH Media Library and Archives Director Karen Cariani about the American Archive initiative yesterday morning.

You can listen to the full radio interview here (it starts at around 00:54:45):

Many thanks to WBEZ’s The Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia and Director Jason Marck for reaching out to us and highlighting the project on the show!

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

♥ Happy Valentine’s Day from the American Archive and Chicago Public Media! ♥

Happy Valentine’s Day! Love is in the air today as we share with you a clip from the American Archive, contributed by Chicago Public Media (WBEZ), featuring Little Milton singing “I Want to Love You” at the Chicago Blues Festival in June of 1987.

“The Chicago Blues Festival has been a Chicago institution for over 30 years and has grown to hold the title of the largest free blues festival in the world. Held every summer in Chicago’s Grant Park, the festival has consistently featured blues legends alongside the future stars of the genre and, despite Chicago’s embarrassment of riches when it comes to blues artists, features performers from around the world. If they’ve sung the blues, chances are they’ve appeared at the festival,” says Chicago Public Media’s Director of Studio and Broadcast Operations Adam Yoffe. “WBEZ has been lucky enough to capture some of the earliest years of the festival to tape, and are excited to bring them to the archive in the coming months.”

Chicago Public Media’s music archives feature interviews and live performances with many of the most revered jazz and blues figures in the country and includes hundreds of reels that date from the mid-1980s to the early ’90s, such as performances of jazz greats Etta James and Dizzy Gillespie and blues legends Lonnie Brooks and Koko Taylor.

This program we’re sharing today was originally recorded on 1/4″ audio tape and was digitized in the first 40,000 hours of the American Archive collection, which are now being preserved at the Library of Congress.

This American Life showcased in today's Google Doodle
This American Life showcased in today’s Google Doodle

And while your in the Valentine’s Day spirit, you should check out today’s Google Doodle. WBEZ’s This American Life has collaborated with Google on today’s Doodle, featuring candy hearts and Valentine’s Day-themed stories produced by This American Life.

**Audio clip courtesy Chicago Public Media (WBEZ). All rights reserved.
Thanks to American Archive intern Bill Nehring for editing today’s clip.
This post was written by Casey E. Davis, Project Manager for the AAPB at WGBH

George McGovern Speaks in Dayton, Ohio

In June 1972, Presidential Democratic Party candidate George McGovern spoke in the city of Dayton, Ohio. Local public radio station WYSO-FM, located on the campus of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, sent a staff member to record the event. When asked by a campaign staffer whether people around the Dayton area were for McGovern or Nixon, the WYSO-FM reporter responded that “around here, around the college area, most people are for McGovern, but they’re wondering if he has a chance with the general population…they wonder if he can convince people around the country to vote for him.”

While serving South Dakota as a U.S. Senator, McGovern became widely known for his strong opposition to the U.S.’s growing involvement in the Vietnam War. He ran on a presidential platform advocating for withdrawal from Vietnam in exchange for the return of American prisoners of war. Nixon, in turn, argued that McGovern would settle for “peace at any price” in Vietnam rather than “peace with honor,” which Nixon said he would bring about. Becoming one of the biggest landslides in American electoral history, McGovern ultimately lost the general election to incumbent Richard Nixon.

Originally recorded on 1/4″ audio tape, this recording was digitized as part of the initial 40,000 hours of American Archive material and was contributed to the collection by WYSO-FM. The preservation files from the digitization project are now being preserved at the Library of Congress. We’ve selected a few minutes from McGovern’s speech in Dayton to share with you today.

This post was written by Casey E. Davis, Project Manager for the AAPB at WGBH.

Managing and Preserving Your Born-Digital Files

Over the past couple of months, the American Archive project team has been working with stations to contribute born-digital or previously digitized files to the American Archive. That is, the types of material we are now gathering for submission into the archive already exist on file-based media, such as Quicktime video files or .wav audio files. During the Content Inventory project, stations created inventory records for the tangible, physical media. As we have been reaching out to stations regarding born-digital, new questions arise:

  • How do we record information, or metadata, about the digital files?
  • What different types of information need to be captured?
  • What are the best practices for creating, naming, organizing, and storing digital files?

Today we want to share with you some general best practices for managing your digital media files. These suggestions may already be common practice for some stations, and if that’s the case, you’re certainly ahead of the game! Best practices for creating and managing digital media are constantly evolving. If you have any suggestions to add to this list, please share them by commenting on this post.


Give each file a Unique Identifier, and if possible, add the unique identifier as an addendum to the file name, e.g:

Original file name:
Unique identifier that you assign the file name: wgbh_10467

New file name:

For camera generated digital files or Source Clips: DO NOT CHANGE OR RENAME THE  FILES.  Instead of changing the original file name, create a folder containing the individual file and name the folder using the Unique Identifier.

Record as much other information about the asset as possible by following the guidelines set forth in the Content Inventory Project. To download a sample Excel file with the basic metadata fields, click here.

Most importantly: Record where to find the asset on a hard drive by providing the full file path.

 Naming Digital Files

Folder and file names should only use:

  • A to Z (small case and capitalization are both acceptable
  • Numbers 0-9.
  • Underscores are acceptable but no other symbols such as !@#$%^&*() – +=|?,
  • A period is acceptable only before an application extension (.doc, .jpeg, etc)
  • No spaces within the folder and file name

Try to record essential information such as format type, date of creation and modification in the file names or through the folder structure.

File Organization

Think carefully about how best to organize your digital files in folders. Consider the best hierarchy for your digital files and whether a deep or shallow hierarchy is preferable. Files can be organized in folders according to:

  • Program Title
  • Format Generation (Master, B roll, Interview, Stock Footage, etc.)
  • Date
  • Camera Model or Digital Format (P2, Quicktime, XDCAM, MP4, DVCPro etc.)
  • Unique ID

Making Back-ups

Making back-ups of your digital files is an essential component to digitally preserving your files. Regular back-ups help to protect against hardware failure, software or media faults, viruses, power failure, or human error. Have multiple copies stored in different locations — on multiple hard drives, on your server, etc.

Data Storage

Like physical tapes, digital files are constantly at risk of being lost forever. Digital files really are only just a series of ones and zeroes — bytes of data — that must be rendered and played back. Like physical formats, digital formats can quickly become obsolete. A few suggestions:

  • create digital files using standardized formats for long-term readability
  • every two to five years, copy or migrate digital files to new hard drives, since the media storing the files are subject to degradation
  • create a schedule to regularly check the files to make sure they are still playable
  • store your digital files on two different forms of storage, such as a hard drive and a server
  • organize and clearly label your hard drives or other storage mediums
  • ensure that the areas where you are storing your hard drives and physical tapes are at a low risk of fire, flood, or other type of disaster

If you have any questions, suggestions, or resources you’d like to share about best practices for preserving born-digital media, please contribute your thoughts by commenting!

**Many thanks to WGBH Digital Archive Manager Leah Weisse for her contributions to this blog post!

This post was written by Casey E. Davis, Project Manager for the AAPB at WGBH.

Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial rally, Bascom Hill, UW-Madison, April 5, 1968

On the third Monday of every January, America honors one of the great martyrs to the cause of civil rights, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To commemorate his lifetime of commitment and sacrifice, we share with you today an audio file from the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, courtesy University of Wisconsin-Madison Archive, Steenbock Library and Wisconsin Public Radio.

The day following Dr. King’s assassination in Memphis, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Chancellor William Sewell suspended classes to mourn the assassinated civil rights leader. That afternoon, on April 5, 1968, a huge gathering of students and faculty met at the campus’s Bascom Hill to participate in memorial services. The Madison Police Department called it “the largest mass demonstration ever held in Madison,” with an estimated total of 15,000 participants.

“It has been a long time since this whole university community has felt a loss so deeply. This man more than any other challenged the forces of hatred and bigotry. This man more than any other gave us a hope that someday this nation might rise above racism and intolerance,” spoke Chancellor William Sewell. “It would be a betrayal of America if we did not learn from his death and if we did not now pledge ourselves to carry forward the spirit and the promise of his faith.”

Black student leaders Sidney Glass, Kenny Erwin, Kenny Williamson and Clara Meek were among the speakers of the memorial service. A predominantly white audience listened to them talk about their grief, racism, the importance of black solidarity. After the students had spoken, the crowd marched up State Street and around the square on UW-Madison’s campus.

The next day, hundreds of students met in classrooms and held discussion forums led by black students. In response to Dr. King’s assassination, the university pledged to create a Martin Luther King scholarship fund “to work for the elimination of racism and racial misunderstanding on campus and within the community…”

Originally recorded on 1/4″ audio tape, the audio clip we have shared today was digitized as part of the initial 40,000 hours of content preserved in the American Archive collection.

Audio clip courtesy University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives, Steenbock Library; Contribution, Wisconsin Public Radio
Image courtesy University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives, Steenbock Library
Content provided from the media collection of Wisconsin Public Broadcasting, a service of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board. All rights reserved by the particular owner of content provided. For more information, please contact 1-800-422-9707
This post was written by Casey E. Davis, Project Manager for the AAPB at WGBH.