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, www.loc.gov.
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 www.wgbh.org.
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 www.cpb.org.
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