WGBH Educational Foundation and the Library of Congress will preserve and make accessible to the public historic and contemporary episodes of Sesame Street.
BOSTON (February 14, 2019) – As Sesame Street begins to mark its 50th anniversary, the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB), a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the WGBH Educational Foundation, has announced that Sesame Workshop has donated a collection of digitized episodes from the past 50 years of Sesame Street, to be preserved for posterity. Over the next year, nearly 4,500 episodes from the first 49 seasons of the iconic children’s television program will be incorporated into the AAPB’s extensive archive of public media from across the United States. The Sesame Street collection will be available to view on-site at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and by appointment at WGBH in Boston.
Street changed the landscape of children’s media at a time when television was
viewed as a ‘vast wasteland’ and transformed a medium that strongly appealed to
children into a source for knowledge and social development for our youngest
citizens,” said Sesame Street co-founder and AAPB Executive Advisory
Council Member Lloyd Morrisett, Jr. “I am proud that we are
entrusting the American Archive of Public Broadcasting with the task of
preserving Sesame Street’s stories
and characters for future generations.”
The Sesame Street preservation project comes
on the heels of Sesame Workshop’s announcement last week detailing plans to
celebrate Sesame Street’s 50th
year of broadcast. Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit education organization
behind Sesame Street, which has been
teaching and inspiring children since its first episode aired on November 10,
1969. Sesame Street’s groundbreaking
research-based methods, dedication to entertaining educational content and
outreach to families in underserved communities established a legacy for
educational television and for public media as a whole.
episodes preserved in the AAPB’s Sesame
Street collection are indelible scenes like the touching “Farewell, Mr.
Hooper,” in which Big Bird, the program’s guileless surrogate for curious
children, learns about death and how to cope;
Ernie’s “Rubber Duckie, You’re the One,” which made it to the 16th
spot on the Billboard top singles chart in 1970; Grover’s frantic back and
forth in “Near/Far,” Cookie Monster’s turn as “Alistair Cookie,” the cookie and
classics-obsessed host of Monsterpiece
Theater; and Kermit the Frog’s hopeful tune, “It’s Not Easy Being Green,”
which stressed self-acceptance.
historian and academic, I can’t stress enough the importance of preserving
groundbreaking media like Sesame Street, which
was the first TV show to address big issues like poverty, family and the
environment in a way that children could understand,” said Kathryn Ostrofsky, Ph.D. and
author of the forthcoming book Sounding
It Out: How Sesame Street Crafted American Culture. “Early episodes of Sesame
Street provide a window into the pressing issues of the times, as well as
changing views about education. The American Archive of Public Broadcasting’s Sesame
Street collection is a critical resource for studying and understanding so
many facets of these societal changes.”
of the AAPB is to digitize, preserve and make accessible historic public media
content from across the country, dating back to the early 1940s. Given its age,
much of the original audio and video tape is fragile and deteriorating. The
AAPB is in a race against time to ensure that future generations, researchers
and the public will be able to access these programs for years to come.
honored that Sesame Workshop has entrusted the preservation of their decades of
work to the American Archive of Public Broadcasting,” said Librarian of
Congress Carla Hayden. “To this day, Sesame
Street is a key part of our national educational, television and public
broadcasting landscape. I hope that everyone whose lives were touched by Sesame Street will visit the Library and
WGBH to experience this historic collection.”
The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) is a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the WGBH Educational Foundation to coordinate a national effort to preserve at-risk public media before its content is lost to posterity and provide a central web portal for access to the unique programming that public stations have aired over the past 70 years. To date, over 50,000 hours of television and radio programming contributed by more than 100 public media organizations and archives across the United States have been digitized for long-term preservation and access. The entire collection is available on location at WGBH and the Library of Congress, and more than 35,000 programs are available online at americanarchive.org.
WGBH Boston is
America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content
for TV and the Web, including Masterpiece, Antiques
Roadshow, Frontline, Nova, American Experience,Arthur, Pinkalicious
& Peterrific, and more than a dozen other primetime, lifestyle and
children’s series. WGBH’s television channels include WGBH 2, WGBX 44, and the
digital channels World and Create. WGBH TV productions focusing on the region’s
diverse community include Greater Boston, Basic Black and High
School Quiz Show. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with
89.7 WGBH, Boston’s Local NPR®; 99.5 WCRB Classical Radio Boston; and WCAI, the
Cape and Islands NPR® Station. WGBH also is a major source of programs for public
radio (among them, PRI’s The World®), a leader in educational
multimedia (including PBS LearningMedia™, providing the nation’s educators with
free, curriculum-based digital content), and a pioneer in technologies and
services that make media accessible to deaf, hard of hearing, blind and
visually impaired audiences. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors:
Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards and Oscars. Find more information
About The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the world’s
largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States —
and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is
the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright
Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a
visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative
information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.
“At the heart of this collection, are the people. The resilient men and women who have both contributed to the legacy of Oklahoma as well as the mosaic of our great nation in the area of art, music, science, exploration, politics, religion, architecture, literature, language, etc.”- Evelyn Cox, Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellow
The OETA News and Cultural Programming (1980-Present) Collection includes 74 programs and segments created since the 1980s by Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA). It is a glimpse into the past, covering topics and exploring issues that are relevant to the diverse cultures of Oklahoma. The collection, which includes programs about Oklahoma history, documents issues and events such as the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889, the life and career of humorist Will Rogers, the women’s war effort in World War II, and the Oklahoma City Bombing. Also featured are individuals, such as, aviator Wiley Post, Boomer David Payne, the “Hanging Judge” Charles Isaac Parker, and many others. This collection is an eclectic mix of digitized at-risk public media material from the OETA Archive with contributions from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Archive.
The Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) is Oklahoma’s only statewide coordinated instructional and public television network. In 1951 the state legislature pioneered the growth of noncommercial educational television in the United States by unanimously approving House Concurrent Resolution Number 5, urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reserve television channels for educational purposes. In addition to offering television programs supplied by PBS and acquired from various independent distributors, the network produces news, public affairs, cultural, and documentary programming; the OETA also distributes online education programs for classroom use and teacher professional development, and maintains the state’s Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) infrastructure. The OETA network’s main offices and production facilities are located at the intersection of Kelley Avenue and Britton Road in northeastern Oklahoma City. The collection was digitized in 2018 by Evelyn Cox and Laura Haygood, Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellows, in collaboration with Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, through a project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The Abolitionists takes place during some of the most violent and contentious decades in American history, … bitter debates over the meaning of the Constitution and the nature of race. – American Experience
The Abolitionists Interview Collection is comprised of 51 raw interviews from the three-part American Experience miniseries of the same name, which aired on PBS in 2013. The series follows the lives of prominent abolitionists including Frederick Douglass, John Brown, Angelina Grimké, William Lloyd Garrison, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, and explores differing and often conflicting approaches to abolishing slavery in the United States.
The Abolitionists interviews examine the historical contexts of the subjects and their lasting legacy on American history and law. Interviews were conducted with authors, educators, and historians, including Manisha Sinha, Professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; James Brewer Stewart, Professor of History at Macalester College, and Founder of Historians Against Slavery; John Stauffer, author and Professor of English and African and African American Studies at Harvard University; and Lois Brown, Professor of African American Studies at Wesleyan University. Subjects discussed include abolition, slavery, racism, the American Constitution, Christianity, civil rights, and the American Civil War.
The Abolitionists interviews were conducted in 2012 for the three-part series of the same name. Nominated for a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series, Rob Rapley served as the director. In 2017, the WGBH Media Library and Archives digitized The Abolitionists interviews and in 2018 submitted them to the American Archive of Public Broadcasting.
Manisha Sinha is Professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of “The Counterrevolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina” (University of North Carolina Press, 2000) and “To Live and Die in the Holy Cause: Abolition and the Origins of America’s Interracial Democracy.”
James Brewer Stewart, James Wallace Professor of History Emeritus, Macalester College, retired, and the founder and director of Historians Against Slavery. Stewart’s books include Holy Warriors: The Abolitionists and American Slavery. He has published biographies of four very well-known enemies of slavery: Joshua R. Giddings, Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison, and Hosea Easton. His most recent books include Abolitionist Politics and the Coming of the Civil War (2008) and Venture Smith and the Business of Slavery and Freedom (2009).
Lois Brown is a professor in the African American Studies Program and the Department of English at Wesleyan University. Brown’s scholarship and research focus on African American and New England literary history and culture.
Erica Armstrong Dunbar, associate professor of Black American Studies with joint appointments in history and in women and gender studies at the University of Delaware.
Carol Berkin, Presidential Professor American Colonial and Revolutionary History; Women’s History, Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, Baruch College. Her publications include: Civil War Wives: The Life and Times of Angelina Grimke Weld, Varina Howell Davis, and Julia Dent Grant (2009).
John Stauffer is Chair of the History of American Civilization and Professor of English and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Among his works include: GIANTS: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln (2008), The Writings of James McCune Smith: Black Intellectual and Abolitionist (2006), and The Problem of Evil: Slavery, Freedom.
Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day is an annual holiday observed on the third Monday of January to commemorate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King was a chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism during the Civil Rights Movement until his assassination in 1968. The campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his death; however, President Ronald Reagan officially signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later.
As MLK Day aims to celebrate the life and achievements of Dr. King, below is a selection of public radio and television programs that document King’s legacy, including his legendary speeches and influence on society.
Context – The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom featured an estimated 250,000 peaceful demonstrators walking from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial to hear a political call to arms for economic equality and civil rights for African Americans. Credited with being the final impetus to the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the event famously ended with Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech – recording below.
Description: Part 17 of 17, this program includes the Educational Radio Network’s (ERN) coverage of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s introduction and speech “I Have a Dream”.
Description: The Long, Hot Summer ’64 series was a weekly news report documenting the civil rights movement during the summer of 1964. This episode describes the arrest of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and 14 others on June 11, 1964, when they attempted to eat at the segregated Monson Motel. Reporters include Dr. Robert Hayling, the head of the movement in St. Augustine and two chaplains from Boston University, Bill England and Eugene Dawson, describe beatings during demonstrations that day and during the previous two evenings.
“After the killing of Dr. King and after the killing of Robert Kennedy many, many people … gave their opinions, and I would like to tell you first that everybody seems to know where violence comes from – they know where the riots come from, where the wars come from, where murder comes from. I’m the only one who doesn’t know, so I’m considered an expert – at least I know one should find it out.” – Dr. Wertham, Discussant
Description: Following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, Dr. Wertham, a practicing psychiatrist and longtime clinical student of violence, discussed how he cuts through the rhetorical excesses of the time. The television series Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr. was a venue for debate and discussion on political, social, and philosophical issues with experts of the day.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is passed — a landmark civil rights and U.S. labor law in the United States that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations.
– – –
Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. Below is a recording of the reception.
Contributing Organization:WYSO (Yellow Springs, Ohio)
Description: In 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. was President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and spoke against the Vietnam War. This program was produced by the SCLC as part of their “Martin Luther King Speaks” weekly series. The program is about lobbying efforts against proposed welfare legislation that brought together the National Welfare Rights Organization, the Peoples Coalition for Peace and Justice, and the Southern Christian Leadership. Conference. It includes short excerpts of King speaking at the beginning and end of the program.
Context – Martin Luther King Jr. was shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. Following MLK’s assassination, performer James Brown was to play a concert in Boston. In an effort to prevent rioting, the Mayor was advised to ask local station WGBH to broadcast the concert. Below is the beginning address of the historic concert.
Description: Following Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, James Brown was to play in Boston and is credited with preventing riots by agreeing to broadcast his concert on WGBH. This short excerpt from the 1968 concert features Councilor Tom Atkins and James Brown as they introduce Mayor Kevin White onto the stage at the Boston Garden. White addresses the crowd, urging they respect the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Brown salutes Mayor White and sings “That’s Life.”
Context – The Civil Rights Act of 1968, also known as the Fair Housing Act, is a landmark part of legislation that provided for equal housing opportunities regardless of race, religion, or national origin. The Act was signed into law during the King assassination riots by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had previously signed the Civil Rights Act 1964 and Voting Rights Act 1965 into law.
Description: This hour-long interconnected public affairs special emanated live from New York City and Washington, D.C., on Thursday, April 11, 1968 at 9 p.m. EST, the day President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights of 1968. The panel studied the meaning of the newly passed Civil Rights Bill in the aftermath of national mourning for Dr. Martin Luther King. Paul Niven moderated the discussion with James Forman, director of international affairs for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); Hosea Williams, national director of political education for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and Floyd McKissick, executive director of the Congress of Racial Equality (Core). In Washington were John Field, director of community relations of the U.S. Conference of Mayors; James J. Kilpatrick, nationally syndicated columnist and former editor of the Richmond, Va. News leader; and Congressman Charles Mathias, Jr. (R-MD).
Description: This episode served as the premiere episode of National Educational Television’s monthly magazine, Black Journal, the first of a series devoted to the interests and concerns of Black America. This segment includes a satire by Godfrey Cambridge, an address by Coretta Scott King, a report on the Poor People’s Campaign, and a study of the African American political reaction to Robert Kennedy’s assassination.
Description: This programcontains a panel discussion covering topics such as the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his impact upon the Civil Rights movement, South Africa, the Vietnam War and the Black community, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Affirmative Action programs, the Bakke decision, capitalism, socialism, U.S. police forces, economics in the Black community, President Carter, racism at the University of California, the firing of Dr. Harry Edwards, and the future of struggle in the United States. Yvonne Golden moderates the panel. Panel members in this first hour include JoNina Abron, Gloria Davis, Dr. Harry Edwards, Enola Maxwell, and Joel Mitchell.
Description:Prime Time is a weekly program about Denver Public Schools hosted by Ed Sardella. This episode visited Garden Place Elementary School, Hallett Academy, and Manual High School, where students focused on the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Description: This episode of the series North Star from 1985 focuses on the history of African Americans from the 1860s to the 1960s through the periods of Reconstruction, Segregation and the Civil Rights Movement. It features Dr. Valerian Smith performing excerpts from his musical composition “Tribulations,” a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. The host includes Genevieve Stewart, who goes into detail about specific aspects of African American history each episode.
Description: Interview with John Lewis conducted for Eyes on the Prize. Discussion centers on the voting rights movement in Selma, Alabama, his friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr., the relationship between SCLC and SNCC, his view on the philosophy of nonviolence, and his involvement in the March on Washington.
Description: This episode of From the Source features guest Rev. Dr. Michael Haynes, a contemporary and colleague of Martin Luther King, Jr. and former MA state representative. During the interview, Haynes reflected on the newly-implemented Martin Luther King Day holiday and addressed caller questions about how young people could further King’s dream of racial equality. He also discussed the need to keep the pressure on political leaders regarding civil rights, King’s intellectual prowess, King’s sense of the hypocrisy of the institutional Christian Church in America, King’s 1965 address to the MA Legislature, and the religious foundations of King’s belief in the necessity of non-violence to achieve his goals.
Contributing Organization:WYSO (Yellow Springs, Ohio)
Description: This program was produced in 1989 to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. for the national holiday in his honor. It featured an excerpt from the commencement speech he gave at Antioch College in Yellow Springs.
Description: This episode of First Friday features highlights from Jackson State University’s 33rd Annual Martin Luther King Birthday Convocation. The goal of the ceremony is to celebrate and remember the contributions Dr. King made for nonviolent social change in America.
Description: During this program, Clayborne Carson, editor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s papers, considered what would come of King’s legacy. Carson notes that in his time, King was a controversial figure and that King himself would likely be have been surprised on how lauded he is. Carson argued that there would not be a holiday in his honor if not for (a) the actions of Rosa Parks, et al., and (b) that he was assassinated before he could continue to say more provocative and controversial things authorities do not like to hear. Carson noted the meaning of King’s life was contested while he was alive, and will continue to be contested long after his death.
The AAPB is a national effort to preserve at-risk public media and provide a central web portal for access to the programming that public stations and producers have created over the past 70 years. To date, over 90,000 items of television and radio programming contributed by more than 100 public media organizations and archives across the United States have been digitized, and the Archive aims to grow by up to 25,000 additional hours per year. The entire collection is available for research on location at WGBH and the Library, and currently, more than 37,000 programs are available in the AAPB’s Online Reading Room at americanarchive.org to anyone in the United States.
‘Engage Your Community to Celebrate Your History’ – Voting closes January 11th!
Help the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) connect with more public television colleagues by voting for our PBS Annual Meeting session proposal: ‘Engage Your Community to Celebrate Your History’.
Many stations have piles of tapes in closets, basements, off-site storage, or hard drives under desks, that represent our local and national cultural heritage. The AAPB has proposed a session to help stations learn about easy steps toward preserving and making their collection available. Through collaborative grants with stations both large and small, the AAPB has preserved nearly 100,000 programs and original materials contributed by 125 TV and radio stations.
Joining the session would be Broadcast Journalist Judy Woodruff, Chair of our Executive Advisory Council and from the PBS NewsHour, Archivist Chris Alexander from WETA, and AAPB Stations and Producers Advisory Committee Member Kevin Crane from Nashville Public Television to discuss preservation, funding, and engaging initiatives that help preserve broadcasting’s legacy!
Over the last several months, I’ve worked as a Research Assistant at WGBH on the PBS NewsHour Digitization Project. This project involves taking the predecessor programs for the PBS NewsHour, including The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and making them available to a wider audience through digitization, preservation, and online access. My specific responsibilities include reviewing the proxy files, or digital copies, of multiple NewsHour episodes and making sure they are presentable (no major audiovisual glitches, complete transcripts, subtitles are legible), and recording the information in an online spreadsheet. This may sound like a straightforward job, but working at WGBH taught me even straightforward jobs can have unpredictable aspects, and I learned a lot about adapting to new challenges and going outside my comfort zone.
Before working on this project, I attended a rigorous Archives Management program at Simmons University, learning about several archival processing practices, chief among them being More Product, Less Process (MPLP). The idea behind MPLP is that, in cases where large amounts of archival content needs to be preserved, the Archivist must focus on processing as many objects as possible. This approach served me well in several real-world internships, including two in different departments at WGBH. The first of these was in the Creative department during the summer of 2015, helping my co-workers not only track data but set up a Google Drive account so as to store it in a spreadsheet. I then parlayed this experience into my Simmons Archives Field Study capstone project in the WGBH Media Library and Archives (MLA). Throughout the winter of 2016, I reviewed and cataloged episodes of regional news magazines produced by the Wyoming PBS and Oregon Public Broadcasting. Between the academic training and real-world experience, I thought I could handle working on the NewsHour Digitization Project, but over time, I found out just how unprepared I was, in the best way possible.
While archives share general principles, every place and department I’ve worked at has its own unique, unpredictable challenges, and the same was true on this project as well. A typical day on the job involves watching NewsHour episodes in bits and pieces, making sure the videos were watchable and their accompanying materials (i.e. transcripts and subtitles) were present and accurate. Most of the time, review has been straightforward, and the clips themselves have occasionally been interesting looks at iconic figures from new perspectives: personal favorites include retrospectives on what would’ve been the 100th birthdays of Alfred Hitchcock and Walt Disney, for example. But there are times where I have been thrown for a loop and needed to adapt.
For clips without transcripts and/or subtitles, I had no choice but to watch them for longer time periods, paying close attention to the audio. This need for paying close attention goes both ways, and there were times during graphic reports (like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina coverage) where I needed to take small breaks to keep from getting overwhelmed emotionally. Fortunately, my co-workers and supervisor, remembering me from my previous Archives internship, have been remarkably sympathetic and understanding, which helped alleviate this stress, among other worries. The friendly, open atmosphere also encouraged me to branch out and extend a helping hand to them, and new people at WGBH, in kind.
Throughout the summer months, the MLA had several interns join over the summer, and as a welcoming gesture, I sat down with each of them for lunch on their first days, and over the course of their time I offered practical advice whenever I could, most importantly to not rule anything out vis-à-vis future work opportunities. At the same time, I myself was a fresh addition to the audience at several MeetUps and SpeakEasys: one of each a month for promoting and socializing with people from different departments of WGBH. The MeetUps even have a whole minute set aside for the purpose of introducing yourself to strangers, a nice and well-appreciated touch. Between this mentorship and more socially conducive environment, I had a support network that helped me a great deal.
As a kid, two of the biggest things that scared me were thunderstorms and spicy foods, particularly buffalo chicken. I would always stay away from both of them at every possible opportunity, to preserve my anxiety and avoid any kind of discomfort. The last few months had their fair share of stormy heat waves and spicy hot wings, but as with archival work in general, uncomfortable situations can only be avoided for so long. In the end, I had to buck up and accept that summer storms could at least be tolerated, and it helps that my co-workers never treated it as a debilitating setback. As for the spicy foods, that I did have control over, and to set a positive example for the interns, I not only tried buffalo chicken, but also pulled pork covered in Jamaican jerk seasoning. To my surprise, neither one of those foods burned my mouth off or led to searing pain, and this growth can be directly attributed to both my at-work support group and my need/willingness to handle unforeseen archiving circumstances.
Being adaptable to unpredictable elements is the most valuable lesson I learned from this experience. On-the-nose food metaphors aside, my experience with the turbulence in both the clouds and video files forced me out of my comfort zone, but it was all in terms I could understand thanks to my years of real-world experience. In my goal of preserving and making accessible the NewsHour files, I persevered and made myself more accessible as well.
“The AAPB is a vast resource and a unique catalogue of our nation’s history through the lens of public media and local perspectives. The feedback we receive from our new committees is crucial to making the AAPB as accessible and user-friendly as possible to key communities across the country,” said Karen Cariani, David O. Ives Executive Director of the WGBH Media Library and Archives and WGBH’s Project Director for the AAPB. “We look forward to collaborating with scholars, educators, stations and producers and expanding the reach of the AAPB.”
The SAC, comprised of scholars from universities, academic and cultural institutions and non-profits from across the U.S., will collaborate on developing ways to engage with scholars and students, discuss how the AAPB can better support research, provide feedback on the AAPB’s website usability and accessibility, advise on future collections significant for preservation and assist in outreach across their academic networks. SAC scholars represent expertise in a range of fields, including public history, media, cinema, library and information science, journalism, science and American studies. The AAPB’s audio and video content from public media stations is a rich resource for research across these topics and more. The SAC’s input will help the AAPB make the use of these resources more accessible for researchers.
A group of education professionals comprise the EduAC. This committee will help the AAPB assess how it can better grow the usage of public media materials in k-12 and community college classrooms. EduAC will advise the AAPB on how to build better and/or integrate with existing online educational tools, to engage with k-12 students and better support educators in the field, and will act as advocates for public media preservation in their networks and communities.
The SPAC will bring together members of the public media community to gather input on how the AAPB can help stations preserve public media and make their historic content more accessible. The SPAC will offer feedback on the archiving services most needed by public media stations and identify significant collections and content for preservation.
The AAPB is a national effort to preserve at-risk public media and provide a central web portal for access to the programming that public stations and producers have created over the past 70 years. To date, over 50,000 hours of television and radio programming contributed by more than 100 public media organizations and archives across the United States have been digitized, and the Archive aims to grow by up to 25,000 additional hours per year. The entire collection is available for research on location at WGBH and the Library, and currently more than 30,000 programs are available in the AAPB’s Online Reading Room at americanarchive.org to anyone in the United States.
– – –
About the American Archive of Public Broadcasting
The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) is a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the WGBH Educational Foundation to coordinate a national effort to preserve at-risk public media before its content is lost to posterity and provide a central web portal for access to the unique programming that public stations have aired over the past 70 years. To date, over 50,000 hours of television and radio programming contributed by more than 100 public media organizations and archives across the United States have been digitized for long-term preservation and access. The entire collection is available on location at WGBH and the Library of Congress, and more than 30,000 programs are available online at americanarchive.org.
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, and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle, and children’s series. WGBH also is a major supplier of programming for public radio and a partner with Public Radio International (PRI). As a leader in educational multimedia for the classroom, WGBH supplies content to PBS LearningMedia, a national broadband service for teachers and students. WGBH also is a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to those with hearing or visual impairments. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards and Oscars. Find more information at www.wgbh.org.
About the Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States – and extensive materials from around the world – both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.
About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Founded in 1969, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. Additional information is available at mellon.org.
Happy International Archives Day! The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) is celebrating by launching five NEW Special Collections that feature raw interviews from American Experience’s Freedom Riders, The Murder of Emmett Till, John Brown’s Holy War, and Jubilee Singers, as well as WGBH’s Peabody award-winning documentary Africans in America!
The AAPB, a collaboration between the Library of Congress and Boston public media station WGBH, has digitized and preserved more than 50,000 hours of broadcasts and previously inaccessible programs from public media’s more than 70-year legacy.
The AAPB invites you to spend the day (and everyday) exploring the collections at americanarchive.org. Let us know what you discover by tagging us at @amarchivepub!
The Freedom Riders Interview Collection contains 124 raw interviews from the American Experience documentary of the same name. The film documents the six-month period from May to November 1961, when white and black activists rode together on buses across the American South to protest the continued segregation of public buses and transportation facilities. Risking attack from white mobs and arrest by local police, the documentary chronicles the reality of the Freedom Riders’ experiences and success at calling attention to southern indifference to federal law and demanding enforcement of integrated interstate bus travel. The Freedom Riders interviews were conducted with activists and journalists who took part in the Freedom Rides, including John Lewis, a key player in the Civil Rights Movement and a member of the House of Representatives; Diane Nash, a coordinator for Freedom Riders in Nashville; Moses Newson, a journalist who covered the first Freedom Ride; John Seigenthaler, a Special Assistant to Robert F. Kennedy; and Genevieve Hughes Houghton, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) field secretary on their Freedom Ride. Subjects discussed include the Supreme Court, the American South, Jim Crow, the Ku Klux Klan, violence, racism, segregation, CORE, and the Civil Rights Movement.
The Murder of Emmett Till Interviews Collection is made up of 40 raw interviews from the award-winning 2003 American Experience documentary, The Murder of Emmett Till. The film, which chronicles the story of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old who was murdered in 1955 after being accused of whistling at a white woman, follows Till’s life and transformation into an icon of the Civil Rights Movement. The Murder of Emmett Till interviews paint a picture of the Jim Crow South, the Mississippi community in which the murder took place, and contain intimate recollections by those who knew Emmett Till. Guests include family and friends of Emmett Till, including Mamie Till Mobley, Emmett Till’s mother and Civil Rights activist; and Wheeler Parker, Emmett Till’s cousin; as well as journalists, politicians, and witnesses, like Ernest Withers, a photographer known for his photos of the segregated South; Willie Reed, a witness who testified against Emmett Till’s murderers; and David Jordan, a Senator from Mississippi. Topics include segregation, Jim Crow, lynching and violence, the American judicial system, journalism, the American South, and the Civil Rights Movement.
The John Brown’s Holy War Interview Collection is comprised of 41 raw interviews conducted in 2000 for the American Experience film of the same name. The interviews examined the enigmatic life, history, myth, and legacy of abolitionist John Brown, one of the most controversial figures in American history. John Brown’s Holy War outlines John Brown’s life, role in the abolition movement, unsuccessful raid on the Harpers Ferry federal armory, death, and subsequent entry into American lore as both villain and martyr during the American Civil War. Interviews were conducted with historians, authors, and educators, including James Horton, Professor of American Studies and History at George Washington University; Paul Finkelman, historian of American law; Margaret Washington, historian and Professor of History at Cornell University; and Russell Banks, novelist. Interviews feature a range of topics, including abolition, philosophy, enslavement, race, Christianity, economics, mental health, journalism, the Dred Scott Decision, Frederick Douglass, Pre-Civil War American politics, the Harpers Ferry attack, and the American Civil War.
The Jubilee Singers Interviews Collection includes 19 raw interviews conducted in 2000 for the American Experience documentary Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory. The film focused on the early years of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, an ensemble of students from Fisk University in Tennessee who created the a cappella group in 1871 in an effort to raise funds for the financially-struggling school. The original Fisk Jubilee Singers, largely made up of former slaves, toured around the United States, and, later, Europe, and were known for their performances of spirituals, which they are partially credited with preserving and introducing to a wider audience. Interviews were conducted with musicologists and historians, including John Hope Franklin, historian and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom; Toni Anderson, Music Historian; Horace Clarence Boyer, musicologist and noted scholar of African-American gospel music; and Reavis L. Mitchell, Professor of History at Fisk University. Topics include spirituals and music, slavery, racism, religion, segregation, the American Civil War, and higher education, particularly historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and Fisk University.
The Africans in America Interviews Collection is made up of 53 raw interviews from the award-winning, four-part documentary of the same name, which aired on PBS in 1998. The documentary, the first to fully examine the history of slavery in the United States, focused on the experiences of African people and their transformation of America, beginning with 16th-century enslavement on Africa’s Gold Coast and ending on the eve of the American Civil War in 1861. The interviews offer an in-depth examination of the social, economic, and intellectual foundations of slavery and the ways in which African people changed the United States. Guests include descendants of slaves and slave-owners, authors, professors, historians, and statesmen, including Colin Powell, retired four-star general and the first African American on the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Karen Hughes White, a descendant of Thomas Jefferson and founder of the Afro-American Historical Association of Fauquier County; Catherine Acholonu, a Nigerian author and Associate Professor of English Literature, Awuku College of Education; and Jeffrey Leath, Pastor of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, Philadelphia. Topics covered include Christianity and English Protestantism, George Washington, Toussaint Louverture, the American Revolution, Nat Turner’s Rebellion, gender conventions, racism, violence, economics, family, and enslavement.
Special thanks to Lynn Mason of the WGBH Media Library and Archives’ Stock Sales and Licensing team for her work in digitizing the collections and Miranda Villesvik for ingesting the collections into AAPB.
Hello, my name is Tanya Yule and I am one of the five, in the first cohort of the AAPB Public Broadcast Preservation Fellows. Later this month I will be receiving my Masters in Library and Information Science, and an advanced certificate in Digital Assets Management from San Josè State University, with an emphasis in archives and preservation.
When I began the program at SJSU it was with a focus on photography preservation; this was initially a means of utilizing my background in historic photography practices as a way to protect and preserve images for future generations. However, through my work at the Hoover Institution Archives (where I am an intern), I began to fall in love with working in all areas of archives, not just with photographs, and have had the fortunate experience to process incredible collections that range from the Russian Revolution to the Vietnam War, each providing a unique glimpse of someone’s life that I get to describe, organize, and preserve for future generations. When the fellowship was posted, I had a “this was made for me” moment and applied instantly. I have wanted to work with A/V media for quite sometime, and have yet to have the opportunity, until now.
For the last three-months I have been entrenched in material spanning the globe; each item as unique as the next, and giving me more in return than I was prepared for. As I am sitting here trying to tap out a structure and synthesis of what the heck just occurred during the American Archive of Public Broadcasting’s Preservation Fellowship, I am almost overwhelmed with the task.
The specialness of this particular fellowship has been based in the opportunity to work with at-risk magnetic media, multiple stakeholders, and learn a very complex technique for capturing. I was fortunate to be able to work with two amazing San Francisco based non-profit organizations that focus on representing arts and culture for underrepresented communities, and have been pillars in what they do for several decades. The collection I worked from came from the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM); CAAM isn’t a traditional archives, but their holdings are significant and represent a wide range of diverse films and documentaries; many which have appeared on local and national PBS stations over the years. The collection contained U-matic, Betacam, and Digibeta tapes, many which haven’t been viewed in decades. The majority of the fellowship was spent over at the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC), under the watchful (and extremely patient and knowledgeable) eye of Jackie Jay. I was fortunate to be able to have my experience take place with the help of a staff that do this work daily, and could help me capture and learn in the best possible situation. I would like to also give a shout out to Morgan Morel for suffering though my lack of commandline knowledge, he has inspired me to take a python class when this is all over.
What is in a name?
While inventorying the items for the collection at CAAM, I couldn’t help but be curious about some of the titles: Anatomy of a Springroll, Dollar a Day, 10 Cents a Dance, A Village Called Versailles, Sewing Woman, to name a few. Since all of the items are on some form of video (magnetic media) it isn’t as easy as just popping in a deck and taking a peek. While capturing in the dark room with my noise cancelling headphones on, there were moments that I would literally laugh out loud, or cry; the subjects are heavy, as is the perspective and history, my work at the Hoover Archives had helped prepare me for dealing with difficult collections, especially when it comes to visual materials regarding war and atrocities.
Cleaning, cleaning, and some baking!
I soon learned that the majority of my time was in making sure that the decks and tapes were in tip-top shape before capturing. It is quite amazing how much time is spent cleaning tapes, cleaning the decks, baking tapes (in a really high tech food dehydrator), re-cleaning tapes, and re-cleaning machines, as well as setting up levels and making sure that the item being digitized is as close to the original as possible. The cleaning ensures that there is no transfer of dust or debris from another tape, and that the output from the deck is precise. I am extremely fortunate to have my digitization station at BAVC, as they understand the fundamentals of video preservation and digitization, and helped me learn more about the process then I thought I would be capable of in such a short time.
About the collection
As archivists often times we really don’t know what the collection is “about” until the end, there are usually surprises, and most the times these records don’t come with a “read me” file, so I figured I would save this portion to the end as well. The collection as a whole speaks to the diversity of Asian American life, culture, and experiences; evoking the universal struggle of the human condition. When curating the featured films for the AAPB Special Collections page it was difficult to choose, however, many of the films tell the history of women who have defied odds, been outspoken, or who had sacrificed so much for so little in return, I wanted to put these women upfront and recognize their stories and the ones who decided to tell them.
Having this wonderful opportunity to participate in this fellowship while completing my degree allowed me to expand my technical and historical knowledge base, which I am forever grateful for. I would like to thank SJSU and my wonderful advisor Alyce Scott, James Ott and Davin Agatep at the CAAM for helping me out with the project, the entire preservation crew at BAVC for making sure I didn’t break anything, and of course the AAPB and all of the wonderful WGBH folks that made this fellowship happen.
If you are interested in learning more, here is a Q & A I did with CAAM when I started, you can also follow #aapbpf for photos of the stations and process.
Written by Tanya Yule, PBPF Spring 2018 Cohort
The Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellowship (PBPF), funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, supports ten graduate student fellows at University of North Carolina, San Jose State University, Clayton State University, University of Missouri, and University of Oklahoma in digitizing at-risk materials at public media organizations around the country. Host sites include the Center for Asian American Media, Georgia Public Broadcasting, WUNC, the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, and KOPN Community Radio. Contents digitized by the fellows will be preserved in the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. The grant also supports participating universities in developing long-term programs around audiovisual preservation and ongoing partnerships with their local public media stations.
For more updates on the Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellowship project, follow the project at pbpf.americanarchive.org and on Twitter at #aapbpf, and come back in a few months to check out the results of their work.