More history resources


National Public Broadcasting Archives, University of Maryland, College Park — mostly papers, including organizational archives of CPB, NPR, PBS and other groups, and personal archives of leaders in the field, now incorporated in the university library’s Special Collections. See also NPBA’s Facebook page.

Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, maintains the archives of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters, (1925-77), the second Carnegie Commission, and National Educational Television (1951-69) and Robert MacNeil, and Jim Robertson’s recordings for the oral history of public television, among other collections.

Library of Congress
Digital collections that are viewable online
Radio Collection, including NPR, BBC and Pacifica recordings
Television Collection, including 10,000 National Educational Television programs through 1969 and 30,000 from PBS.
StoryCorps interviews, FAQ from American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Books online

Cover of James Day's book, The Vanishing VisionJames Day, The Vanishing Vision: The Inside Story of Public Television is out of print, but the complete book is posted online by the University of California Press

Numerous histories and critiques are searchable at Google Books, including
David Barsamian, The Decline and Fall of Public Broadcasting 
Laurence Jarvik, PBS Behind the Screen
James Ledbetter, Made Possible By: The Death of Public Broadcasting in the United States
Michael McCauley’s NPR: the Trials and Triumphs of National Public Radio
Jerold M. Starr: Air Wars: The Fight to Reclaim Public Broadcasting, 2000

Also on this site

Microfilms of Current‘s first 15 years, 1980-95 — still largely undigitized and missing from this site, available from the National Archive of Public Broadcasting.

Public Media Policybase — key documents in the history of public media, compiled by Current with the help of the National Public Broadcasting Archive.

Tuning Out Education: The Cooperation Doctrine in Radio — a paper on the historic 1930s setback for noncommercial broadcasting in America, by Eugene E. Leach, Ph.D., originally published in Current, 1983, as “Snookered 50 Years Ago.”

Video interviews and oral histories

Archive of American Television — operated by the Television Academy Foundation, has hundreds of video/oral histories on Some interviewees are associated with public TV:

Kirk Browning, prolific director of performing arts broadcasts for PBS and commercial nets

Ken Burns, star PBS documentarian

George Carlin, comedian, discusses his experience hosting the PBS children’s show Shining Time Station

Julia Child, tastemaker and PBS cooking star

Kevin Clash, a master puppeteer with Sesame Street

Joan Ganz Cooney, creator of Sesame Street and longtime leader of Sesame Workshop

James Day, president of National Educational Television and, before that, KQED in San Francisco. (Only one of five segments of his interview had been released by 2011.)

Susan Lacy, executive producer of WNET’s American Masters, June 2011

Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil, co-founding anchors of what is now PBS NewsHour

Bob McGrath, longtime performer on Sesame Street

Newton Minow, attorney and former chair of FCC and PBS

Alan & Susan Raymond, filmmakers of The American Family about the Louds. (Steven Bochco also discusses the influence of their public TV doc The Police Tapes on his series Hill Street Blues.)

Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and his colleagues Josie Carey and David Newell.

Daniel Schorr, NPR news analyst and longtime CBS News correspondent

Carroll Spinney, Sesame Street puppeteer (Big Bird)

Bob Vila, original host of This Old House (who parted company with WGBH in a dispute), June 2010

The archive also collects multiple interviews about several PBS shows, including The Electric Company and Sesame Street. There are multiple interviews about Sesame Street‘s 1983 episode “Farewell, Mr. Hooper.”