Skip to main content
Use the right side menu to identify relevant boxes and place requests.

John C. Schwarzwalder papers

 Collection 0061-MMC-NPBA

John C. Schwarzwalder (1918-1992) was a pioneer in educational television, establishing the nation's first educational television station, KUHT-TV, at the University of Houston in 1953. He moved to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area in 1956, where he helped establish three noncommercial educational television stations: KTCA-TV, KTCI-TV, and KWOM-TV. In 1976, he accepted the position of station manager of KOKH-TV in Oklahoma.

Over the years, Schwarzwalder performed consultancy work for various states, cities, schools, and commissions in educational television. He is the author of ETV in Controversy (1970). The collection primarily documents his commitment to maintaining educational television's identity as a separate entity from public broadcasting and includes clippings, correspondence, speeches, writings, and reports.


  • 1935-1992 and undated
  • Majority of material found within 1965-1986

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research use.

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.


7.00 Linear Feet


John C. Schwarzwalder, a pioneer in the field of educational television, was born in Columbus, Ohio, on June 21, 1917, to S. J. and Alice Schwarzwalder. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Ohio State University in 1937; a Master's Degree from the University of Michigan in 1940; and a Doctor of Education Degree from the University of Houston in 1953. His master's thesis was entitled "The Scenic, Dramatic and Musical Ramifications of the Court Masque in Stuart England," and his doctoral dissertation was "An Historical Study of the Technical, Legal and Financial Development of Television." On July 10, 1945, Schwarzwalder married Ruth Dierker. They subsequently had two children, Joan Dierdre and Raymond John.

Schwarzwalder began his military career in 1941 as a private in the United States Army. During his years of military service, he rose to the rank of major. He spent thirty-five months in overseas service in North Africa, Italy, France, Belgium, and Germany. Also involved in combat intelligence and counterintelligence work, Schwarzwalder earned eight campaign stars and was awarded the Medal of Order of Ouissam Alaouite (Morocco). He was a member of the Military Reserve from 1945-1956 with the rank of Major, Military Intelligence. He later wrote about his war experience in We Caught Spies (Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1946).

From 1945 to 1948, Schwarzwalder served as Associate Director of the Wall School of Music, a private school of nearly 300 students, in Los Angeles. Concurrently, he directed the American GI Chorus in motion picture work for Republic Studios and in concert.

In 1948 Schwarzwalder moved to Houston, Texas, to become Assistant Professor at the University of Houston. In the course of time he was named Associate Professor and then Professor and Chairman of the Radio-Television Department. It was here in 1950 that Schwarzwalder established KUHF-FM and in 1953, KUHT-TV, the first of the nation's 258 non-commercial, educational television stations. He administered the Department of Radio and Television with a faculty and staff of 43 and 470 students. At KUHT-TV, he developed and produced most of the programs during its first year. Concurrently, he served as news analyst and newscaster for KTRH-AM-FM (CBS).

In 1956 he left the University of Houston and moved north to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he became Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Twin City Area Educational Television Corporation which owned and operated three non-commercial educational television stations in Minnesota: KTCA-TV and KTCI-TV in Saint Paul/Minneapolis and KWOM-TV in Appleton. None of these stations existed in 1956 when Schwarzwalder arrived. His job included obtaining capital financing, applying for the necessary FCC licenses, supervising construction, arranging for operating funds, finding and hiring adequate operating personnel, setting up programming policies and putting the stations on the air. He later was responsible for arranging for the operation of Midwestern Educational Television, a regional network of 17 stations.

Leaving Minneapolis to move south again in 1976, Schwarzwalder became the Station Manager of KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Retaining many of his contacts with the Twin City area, he worked as a researcher for Twin City Area PTV Corporation. As a researcher, he completed and submitted bench-mark studies of the implications for PTV of the videodisc and the increasing use and popularity of credit courses.

In 1978 he was both Executive Consultant to the Twin City Area PTV Corporation and Manager of the Denton, Texas, Channel Two Foundation, Inc. He prepared financial, programming and fund-raising plans for activation of a new station on Channel Two in North Texas, as well as acquiring land for transmitter sites, negotiating with FAA and Department of Defense (Corps of Engineers) and preparing FCC applications.

From 1977 to 1985 Schwarzwalder was President of DBLS, Inc., a non-profit corporation formed to establish, operate, and maintain non-profit educational television and radio stations in Austin, Texas. At DBLS, Schwarzwalder made applications for television and radio channels to Federal agencies including the Federal Communications Commission and to federal, state, and local government agencies as well as to private individuals, corporations, and foundations for funds and facilities.

Over the years, Schwarzwalder served as an independent consultant for the states of Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Northern Iowa, the National Association of Educational Broadcasters, and the cities of Cleveland, Ohio; Duluth, Minnesota; Fargo, North Dakota; and Little Rock, Arkansas. He also served as a consultant to the University of Maine, the South Carolina ETV Commission, the Alabama ETV Commission, Auburn University, the Louisiana ETV Commission, the Texas ETV Commission, KETC-TV in St. Louis, Missouri, the University of Florida, the Kentucky ETV Commission, the University of Louisville, Milwaukee Technical College, Superior State University (Wisconsin), the State of North Dakota and Lakehead University (Ontario, Canada).

Always active in whatever community of which he was a part, Schwarzwalder chaired the Committee on Racial Imbalance in St. Paul Public Schools (CRISP) in 1965. He was also a member of the Afro-American Music Opportunities Association from 1968 to 1976. Other organizations which benefited from his time and talents were: American Heart Association; Minnesota Heart Association; Minnesota Metropolitan Planning Commission; Minnesota Planning Association; Minneapolis Citizens League; Minnesota Orchestral Association; School for Societal Development; Minnesota Humanities Commission; and Advisory Committee on Mass Media, Texas Humanities Commission.

John C. Schwarzwalder died in 1992.


Organized as twelve series:

  1. Series 1: Correspondence
  2. Series 2: KTCA-TV, Minneapolis
  3. Series 3: DBLS, Inc., Austin, Texas
  4. Series 4: Denton Channel Two Foundation, Inc.
  5. Series 5: Subject Files
  6. Series 6: Speeches
  7. Series 7: Writings
  8. Series 8: Newsletters
  9. Series 9: Periodicals
  10. Series 10: Reports, Surveys, and Books
  11. Series 11: Clippings
  12. Series 12: Photoprints

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The John C. Schwarzwalder papers were donated to the National Public Broadcasting Archives, University of Maryland Libraries by him February of 1992 and by his daughter, Ms. Joni Schwarzwalder Mason in August of 1992.

Guide to the John C. Schwarzwalder papers
Processed by Mary Kafes, December 1993. Revised by Karen E. King, July 1995
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

  • 2007-04-15: EAD markup checked and verified using JEdit software by Karen E. King, April 2007.
  • 2008-11-14: EAD revised by Karen E. King, November 2008
  • 2011-04-07: EAD revised by Karen E. King, April 2011
  • 2019-01-18: Finding aid reviewed and minor edits made by Duncan Griffin.
  • 2021-08-06: 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