The Advocates is back, in WGBH’s Open Vault

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WGBH is offering a digitized collection of 50 episodes of the early pubTV debate program The Advocates, which initially ran on PBS from 1969 for six seasons. The programs are available on the station’s Open Vault archives site.

The Advocates staged debates about important public issues of the day and invited the public to mail in their votes to determine the winner — an early pre-cursor to voting/elimination-style reality television,” WGBH noted in the announcement.

National figures appearing include Joseph Biden, Michael Dukakis, Barney Frank, Jesse Owens, Adlai Stevenson and Hubert Humphrey. Topics cover an array of issues such as gay marriage, financing of Social Security, limiting campaign contributions, tax credits for school tuition and government-funded healthcare for all Americans.

The project is funded by a grant to WGBH’s Media Library and Archives from the Open Society Foundations, as part of its Youth Initiative’s Global Debates program, which encourages students to engage in critical, reasoned discussions.

Roger Fisher, who created The Advocates, died last month at the age of 90.