News from the Project Team (12/9/13)

Greetings everyone!  I’m Casey Davis, the Project Manager for the American Archive. We are only one month in and are thrilled to have heard from so many stations and the general public expressing your support and interest in the initiative. We’ve been asked a lot of questions, and today I wanted to give a few updates on where we stand as we move forward in Phase One of the initiative. We have already been working very closely with the Library of Congress to begin planning for the next two years and are very excited about working toward the goals we have set.

Materials found and inventoried by WBEZ — Chicago, IL

First, let me back up a little: In 2012, we completed the Content Inventory Project, during which staff members at 120 public media stations across the United States went into their closets, browsed through their shelves, and dug into decades-old boxes to find out exactly what stuff they had been collecting for the past 50+ years. Well, that treasure hunt resulted in 2.5 MILLION inventory records, of which 40,000 hours of content are now slated for digitization and long-term preservation at the Library of Congress. And just to ease any doubts out there about the materials’ safekeeping — the Library has committed to preserving the materials for the life of the Republic plus 500 years. So, that being said, rest assured that they are safe in the hands of our friends at the LC.

iowa public television - johnston
The vault at Iowa Public Television — Johnston, Iowa
kued-salt lake
Film canisters at KUED — Salt Lake City, Utah

Stations that participated in the inventory and/or digitization projects should have access to the Archival Management System (AMS). This is where you can view all of your records contributed during the inventory project, see streaming files of your digitized materials, and keep up to date on the progress of your digitization. The AMS URL is If you do not have access to the AMS, email me and I’ll get you set up in the system.

One of the first goals for the next two years is the addition of 5,000 more hours of born-digital or previously digitized materials to the archive. We’d love to include in this selection the materials that were digitized during the Pilot Project in 2009 and any other materials that stations wants to contribute. We are currently working on finalizing the documentation for this process, but feel free to go ahead and let me know if your station is interested, and we can begin discussing the next steps.

Inventoried 2″ and 1″ video tape from Vermont Public Television — Colchester, VT

Until the final American Archive website is developed, the project team will post updates and resources on this blog on a regular basis. To receive updates via email, subscribe to the blog and sign up for our American Archive email list! To learn more about our goals for the next two years and beyond, view a slide show that we presented at the annual Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) conference.

If you have any questions about the project or have any suggestions on how we can improve this blog as a resource for you, please do not hesitate to contact me at Casey_Davis [at] wgbh [dot] org.

From the American Archive: President Nelson Mandela

Today, South Africa and the rest of the world mourn the loss of Nelson Mandela, the revered South African president and anti-apartheid revolutionary who spent 27 years in prison. Serving as South Africa’s first black president, he ended apartheid, the government platform, which for nearly five decades had enforced racial segregation, denying non-whites any economic or political power. During his five-year presidency, Nelson Mandela led his country to democracy, tackling racism, poverty, and inequality, and fostering reconciliation.

Upon hearing news of his death yesterday, we contacted our American Archive partnering station WHUT, located on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. Today they have given us permission to share with you a video from the American Archive, featuring President Nelson Mandela at Howard University in October of 1994, the day on which he received an honorary doctorate degree from the university.

“Our cause became your cause, and so shall it remain, for us to work together to improve the quality of life of especially black people, and other disadvantaged communities — in South Africa, in Africa, in the United States, and other parts of the world.” –South Africa President Nelson Mandela, upon receiving an honorary doctorate at Howard University, October 7, 1994

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

New home for the American Archive

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 14, 2013) – An unprecedented and historic collection of American public radio and television content – dating back through the 1950s – will be permanently preserved and made available to the public through a collaboration between the Library of Congress and WGBH Boston as the American Archive of Public Broadcasting.

In 2007, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) initiated an inventory of public media content from contributing stations, resulting in 2.5 million records representing complete programs, raw footage, unedited interviews, recorded speeches, and live music sessions. Now, 40,000 hours of that content is being digitized and is slated for transfer and long-term preservation through a collaboration between the Library of Congress and WGBH, with funding support from CPB.

“The American Archive of Public Broadcasting is a national asset that will preserve thousands of hours of iconic, at-risk, local, and national content,” said Pat Harrison, CPB president and CEO.  “I want to congratulate and thank the public media stations, and the local communities they represent, who provided content for the Archive.  For the past six years, CPB has created, defined and managed this initiative and we are very pleased to announce that it has finally found a permanent home with the Library of Congress and WGBH.”

The American Archive of Public Broadcasting includes local, regional, and national history, news, public affairs, civic affairs, religion, education, environmental issues, music, art, literature, filmmaking, dance, and poetry from the mid-20th century through the first decade of the 21st century.

“The American people have made a huge investment in public radio and television over many decades,” said James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress. “This collaboration will ensure that this rich and creative cultural history will be saved and made available to future generations.”

“We are very excited and proud to become the home for the American Archive, and to be part of keeping history alive for audiences and for the public,” said Jon Abbott, president and CEO of WGBH. “We couldn’t have a better partner than the Library of Congress in making these treasures available, and we’re grateful to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for their leadership and support of this effort.”

The collection includes interviews and performances by local and national luminaries from a broad variety of professions and cultural genres. Just a few examples of the items in the collection include:  Iowa Public Television’s interview with Olympic runner Jesse Owens, recorded in 1979, the last year of his life; KUSC’s (Los Angeles) broadcast of commentary by George Lucas on the original three Star Wars movies; Twin Cities Public Television’s recording of a 1960 interview with presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey; and WGBH’s 1967 interviews with then-California Governor Ronald Reagan.

Regional coverage and programming abounds, such as an award-winning series of 48 programs on the history of Southwest Florida from WGCU in Fort Myers; WCTE’s (Tennessee) news magazine which highlights the Upper Cumberland, a region that most Americans have never seen; KUED’s (Salt Lake City) films from the 1950s of performances by the famed organist of the Mormon Tabernacle; a 1929 film reel of a hike on Mount Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak, discovered by Maine Public Broadcasting; and WEDU’s (Tampa) collection of several dozen Aeronautics & Space Report programs from NASA.

“This is an important step in CPB’s commitment to preserve and make available to the American public the tremendous amount of high quality programming and content produced by public media television and radio stations over the past several decades and in the future,” said Patty Cahill, Chairman of the CPB Board of Directors.  “We are pleased that the Library of Congress and WGBH will continue this culturally and historically significant project on behalf of the public media system and the American people.”

A national advisory panel, comprised of leaders from public media, the arts, academia, technology, and business recommended to the CPB Board of Directors the collaborative team of the Library of Congress and WGBH to lead this historic project. The panel was instrumental in guiding the selection process, providing questions, observations, and recommendations regarding core elements of the Archive’s future success.

American Archive National Advisory Panel members include:  Bruce Ramer, partner at Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown, a Los Angeles entertainment and media law firm, and member of the CPB board of directors; Henry Becton, vice chair and former president of the board of trustees of the WGBH Educational Foundation; Ken Burns, award winning filmmaker; John W. Carlin, former Governor of Kansas and archivist of the United States, and currently visiting professor, executive-in-residence in the School of Leadership Studies at Kansas State University; Dr. Jeffrey Cole, founder and director of the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; Deanna Marcum, managing director at Ithaka S+R, a not-for-profit research and consulting organization, and former associate librarian of Congress; John Ptak, film producer and former talent agent at CAA, William Morris and ICM, and member of the National Film Preservation Board and the National Film Preservation Foundation; Cokie Roberts, commentator for ABC News and contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition; Dr. Stephen D. Smith, executive director of the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education; Hon. Margaret Spellings, senior advisor to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and former U.S. Secretary of Education from 2005 to 2009; Sir Howard Stringer, chairman of the board of directors, Sony Corporation; and Jesús Salvador Treviño, writer, director, and producer.

“The American Archive of Public Broadcasting continues to be a priority for CPB – to preserve decades of high quality local and national public media content,” said Bruce Ramer, who, in addition to being a member of the American Archive National Advisory Panel, is also Chairman of the USC Institute on Entertainment Law and Business.  “I want to thank the panel for their leadership which helped to ensure the preservation and permanent availability of public broadcasting’s rich legacy.”

Responsibilities for governance and long-term strategy development will be shared by the Library of Congress and WGBH, including expansion of the digital archive by acquiring additional content, and providing on-site access to the material at both WGBH in Boston and at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. They will work with AudioVisual Preservation Solutions to develop and manage the website/content management system for the digitization of the 40,000 hours of content, and with Crawford Media Services to do the digitization for the stations.

About The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. The Library holds the largest collection of audio visual recordings in the world and has been collecting and preserving historically, culturally and aesthetically significant recordings in all genres for nearly 120 years. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s website,

About WGBH

WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, Curious George and more than a dozen other award-winning prime-time, lifestyle, and children’s series, reaching nearly 75 million people each month. WGBH also is a major supplier of programming for public radio, and oversees Public Radio International (PRI). A leader in educational multimedia for the classroom, WGBH supplies content to PBS LearningMedia. WGBH also is a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to those with hearing or visual impairments. Find more information at

About CPB

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,400 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services. Visit us at

Media Contacts

WGBH Boston:

Michael Raia

Corporation for Public Broadcasting:

Kelly Broadway
(202) 879-9641