Mellon Foundation Awards GBH $16 Million Grant to Support the American Archive of Public Broadcasting

GBH’s largest-ever private grant will support the digitization, preservation and improved accessibility of at-risk public media programs from across the country

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACTS
GBH
Emily Balk
617-300-5317
emily_balk@wgbh.org

BOSTON (January 11, 2023) – The Mellon Foundation has awarded GBH $16 million to support the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB), a GBH collaboration with the Library of Congress, to digitize, preserve and make accessible historically significant public radio and television programs from producers and stations across the United States. This grant will be the largest private philanthropic grant GBH has ever received.

“We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation for their support of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. This vast collection of public media programs is American history as seen through local, regional and national lenses, but we are in a race against time to preserve these at-risk treasures now on fragile and obsolete formats,” said GBH President and CEO Susan Goldberg. “The AAPB ensures that critical works of culture, news, arts and more are identified and made accessible to the public for years to come.”

The grant builds on previous support from the Mellon Foundation and will enable the AAPB to advance its work by: identifying collections suitable for preservation; prioritizing digitization and ingestion of collections representing the diversity of American voices currently stored on at-risk, deteriorating media formats; supporting the digitization of up to 150,000 items, thereby doubling the current size of the collection; participating in the development of open-source digital tools to improve content management; enhancing the public website and supporting the needs of its growing and evolving user base; and expanding development of special collections and exhibits, outreach to communities of interest, and cultivation of an ethic of preservation throughout the public media community.

“This grant from the Mellon Foundation is a recognition of the AAPB’s vital work in preserving decades of American history, told through the diverse voices and perspectives of stations across the country and U.S. territories,” said Karen Cariani, the David O. Ives Executive Director of the GBH Media Library and Archives and GBH Project Director for the AAPB. “With this funding, the AAPB will be able to better support its contributing stations as well as the growing number of users who rely on our digital archive for education, journalism, scholarship and more.”

“The preservation of public media is as critical as its creation. Mellon’s commitment to help ensure the longevity of this multivocal cultural and civic heritage will provide future generations opportunities to understand themselves and their communities in more complete ways,” said Patricia Hswe, Program Officer for Public Knowledge at The Mellon Foundation. “I’m thrilled that GBH, in collaboration with the Library of Congress, will be able to pursue this rescue work on a large scale and make substantial progress in saving this endangered media.”

The AAPB contains nearly 100,000 items online available for the public to stream for free, dating back more than 70 years, with thousands more available for research access. Collections and content range from full episodes of groundbreaking public affairs programs like WNET’s Black Journal, unedited interviews recorded for series like Eyes on the Prize, the kid-driven ‘70s series ZOOM, and the entire “gavel-to-gavel” coverage of the Watergate Hearings. Exhibits delve into public media’s coverage of protests in America, Latino empowerment, Indigenous representation and much more. The AAPB was initiated by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with a series of pilot projects before granting stewardship to the Library of Congress and GBH in 2013.


About GBH
GBH is the leading multiplatform creator for public media in America. As the largest producer of content for PBS and partner to NPR and PRX, GBH delivers compelling experiences, stories and information to audiences wherever they are. GBH produces digital and broadcast programming that engages, illuminates and inspires, through drama and science, history, arts, culture and journalism. It is the creator of such signature programs as MASTERPIECE, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, FRONTLINE, NOVA, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, Arthur and Molly of Denali and a catalog of streaming series, podcasts and on-demand video. GBH’s television channels include GBH 2, GBH 44, GBH Kids and national services WORLD and Create. With studios and a newsroom headquartered in Boston, GBH reaches across New England with GBH 89.7, Boston’s Local NPR; CRB Classical 99.5; and CAI, the Cape and Islands NPR station. Dedicated to making media accessible to and inclusive of our diverse culture, GBH is a pioneer in delivering media to those who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired. GBH creates curriculum-based digital content for educators nationwide with PBS LearningMedia and has been recognized with hundreds of the nation’s premier broadcast, digital and journalism awards. Find more information at gbh.org.

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 150,000 digital files of television and radio programming contributed by more than 150 public media organizations and archives across the United States have been preserved and made accessible for long-term preservation and access. The entire collection is available on location at the Library of Congress and GBH, and nearly 100,000 files are available online at americanarchive.org.

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