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Children's Television Workshop records

 Collection 0073-MMC-NPBA

The Children's Television Workshop (now known as the Sesame Workshop) is an American nonprofit organization producing educational children's programs, founded in 1966 by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett. With funding from the United States Office of Education, the Carnegie Corporation Foundation, and the Ford Foundation to support an experimental television program's research and production, Sesame Street premiered in November 1969. It became the first of several CTW programs: The Electric Company, Feeling Good, The Best of Families, and 3-2-1 Contact.

The Children's Television Workshop records consist of a wide variety of materials from the 1960s to the 1990s. The materials have been divided into multiple series based on the format and originating office of the materials. These series contain corporate records and reports, administrative documents, board minutes, program research, scripts, artwork, and press materials. While the series has been arranged to gather materials based on individual programs together, several divisions and offices contributed to program research, development, and outreach, meaning that program materials are widely available in series throughout the collection.


  • 1960-1995 and undated
  • Majority of material found within 1968-1985

Language of Materials

The majority of this collection is created in English; however, materials in Series 12 (International Programming Files) include a wide-variety of languages, including Spanish, French, and German, among others.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

A small portion of boxes in this collection have not been fully processed. This means that materials in these boxes are in the same state we received them and have not been reviewed for content or condition.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


456.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

The Children's Television Workshop (CTW) records document the founding and organization of CTW, as well as the public television programming produced and distributed by CTW. The records include administrative reports and correspondence, program files, research articles and data, press clippings and notices, international programming files, and the files of the Community Education Services. The materials date from approximately 1960 to 1995 with the bulk of the materials from 1968 to 1985.

Biographical / Historical

Joan Ganz Cooney (former WDNT producer) and Lloyd Morrisett (former Vice President of the Carnegie Corporation) began Children's Television Workshop (now known widely as Sesame Workshop) with a simple conversation over dinner in 1966. Cooney and Morrissett discussed the feasibility of a television program that would promote early childhood education, especially for low-income families. That year, Cooney led a feasibility study, "The Potential Uses of Television in Preschool Education," which outlined how such work would benefit early childhood education. Subsequently in March 1968, Cooney and Morrissett officially founded the Children's Television Workshop (CTW). Together Cooney and Morrisett secured support from several organizations, including the United States Office of Education, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Ford Foundation, and NET, among others. That same year in 1968, Cooney became the Executive Direct of CTW and launched a series of seminars with Gerald S. Lesser, the Chairman of CTW's Board of Advisors. In these formative years, CTW recruited several personnel that would be integral to their success, including Lesser (then a Harvard professor specializing in educational psychology), Executive Producer David D. Connell, and Director of Research Edward L. Palmer. In 1968, Cooney also managed to recruit Jim Henson and his puppets for their help on their new program Sesame Street, which debuted in November 1969 and continues on air today.

Under Cooney's lead, CTW debuted several subsequent programs including The Electric Company, Feelin' Good, The Best of Families, 3-2-1 Contact, and Square One TV, among others. Cooney stepped down in 1990 to become the Chair of the CTW Executive Committee, but remained active in CTW through the organization's many changes.

In 2000, CTW officially changed its name to the Sesame Workshop which today continues with the mission to "help kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder."


This collection has been arranged into the following fourteen series:

Series 1
Corporate Records
Series 2
Sesame Street Files
Series 3
The Electric Company Files
Series 4
Feeling Good Files
Series 5
The Best of Families Files
Series 6
3-2-1 Contact Files
Series 7
Program Projects
Series 8
Public Affairs Files
Series 9
Production Files
Series 10
Research Department Files
Series 11
Press Notices and Clippings
Series 12
International Programming Files
Series 13
Community Education Services Files
Series 14
Oversize Documents and Media

Custodial History

The Children's Television Workshop records were donated to the University of Maryland Libraries in five installments from 1994 to 2000. The first group of records was received from the Children's Television workshop in 1994, and subsequent additions came the University in 1995, 1996, 1998, and 2000.

Related Materials

The University of Maryland Libraries house several collections of materials related to public and educational broadcasting and television. Researchers interested broadly in these topics may also consider referencing materials in the following collections avaiable at the University of Maryland: the Keith Mielke papers, Public Broadcasting Services records, Corporation for Public Broadcasting records, and WNET records.

Processing Information

The Children's Television Workshop Records were received by the University of Maryland between 1994 and 2000. CTW transferred the records from a storage warehouse where they had been originally arranged by office of origin and maintained for long-term storage. In 1996, Robert Davidson (a CTW employee from 1968-1979) began to re-arrange the records and process the collection with funding from CTW and the John and Mary R. Markle Foundation. Davidson created a research guide and index to the records in which he detailed the initial 14 series: Corporate Records, Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Feeling Good, The Best of Families, 3-2-1 Contact, Program Projects, Public Affairs Miscellany, Production Miscellany, Research Miscellany, Press Notice of CTW, CTW International Programming, Community Outreach, and CTW Research Library.

Beginning in 2000, Robert Davidson, Robert Murrow, Sarah Frazer, and Amanda Jones continued to process the collection as new material was incorporated. The group completed a finding aid for the collection in 2007, which included the final series: Oversize Documents and Media.

In 2017, Caitlin Rizzo began work to incorporate accruals of materials received in 1998 and 2000 into the collection with help from Adam Gray. Rizzo re-titled existing series from the CTW administrative departments, re-united materials from the CTW Research Library with materials from the entire Research division, processed materials from the International Programming Files to the box level, and worked with Adam Gray who created an inventory for the Community Education Services materials.

In 2018, Rizzo converted the container listing to a Comma Separated Value (CSV) document and Bria Lynn Parker used the Stead program in order to convert the CSV document into Encoded Archival Description (EAD) for import. Parker imported the finding aid in May of 2018 and the guide was copyedited and completed by Rizzo the same month.

Guide to the Children's Television Workshop records
Processed by Robert Davidson, Robert Morrow, Sarah Frazer, and Amanda Jones. Additional processing completed by Caitlin Rizzo and Adam Gray in 2018.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2010-01-01: EAD markup checked and verified by Karen King.
  • 2012-01-23: EAD markup checked and verified by Joanne Archer.
  • 2017-06-08: Revised by Caitlin Rizzo.
  • 2018-05-09: Revised and materials re-processed by Caitlin Rizzo. Additional processing completed by Adam Gray.
  • 2018-11-10: Editorial corrections and other minor updates completed by Joanne Archer
  • 2021-08-13: Jim Baxter re-wrote the collection abstract.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742