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Founded in 1967, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is the steward of the U.S. federal government’s investment in public broadcasting and the nation’s largest single source of funding for public radio, television, and related services. CPB distributes funding to locally-owned public radio and television stations and ensures universal access to non-commercial-high quality content and telecommunications services. The CPB does not own or operate any television or radio broadcasting networks or produce programs; its function is funding educational stations, networks, systems, and programs for public dissemination. CPB is known for providing funding to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR), as well as funding major technological and cultural innovations in the field of public broadcasting.
This collection consists of administrative records of the CPB, documenting its efforts to expand public broadcasting in the United States, its grant programs for local radio and television broadcasting stations, and its partnerships with external foundations. The collection also includes audiovisual recordings of programs funded through CPB grants in audio cassette, audio CD, VHS, and U-Matic formats. Documents include memoranda, correspondence, meeting minutes, publicity materials, grant applications, and Congressional testimony.
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.
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.
520.85 Linear Feet (record storage containers, Hollinger boxes, and half-Hollingers)
4,006 Items (audio cassettes, videocassettes, sound discs, audio discs, and floppy discs)
57 Items (57 bound volumes of legislative history)
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting records consist of administrative, programming, and financial documents, including records from the CPB Executive Office, and Office of Education and Programming dating from 1967 through 2005. Materials also include cassette tapes and CDs from the Radio Program Fund dating from 1992-2000 and VHS and U-Matic videocassettes dating from the 1970s-1990s. The bulk of the administrative and executive files date from the 1970s through the 1980s. Records document the activities of the CPB, including distributing grants and advocating for public broadcasting. The collection also documents CPBS’s efforts to expand radio and television broadcast service nationwide, as reflected in correspondence, meeting minutes, and legal hearing transcripts. Of note are the Executive Office files of CPB presidents John W. Macy and Henry Loomis, which document the first years of CPB’s existence through annual reports, fundraising records, and the beginnings of CPB’s interactions with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR). The CPB Radio Program Fund also includes recordings of minority and specialized programming by local radio stations from around the country.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is the steward of the U.S. federal government’s investment in public broadcasting and the nation’s largest single source of funding for public radio, television, and related services. CPB is known for distributing funding to locally-owned public radio and television stations and ensuring universal access to “non-commercial-high quality content and telecommunications services.” President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act, which created the CPB, on November 7, 1967. The Public Broadcasting Act was a landmark piece of legislation that acknowledged the previous five decades of growing public interest in public educational radio and television programs for instructional, educational, and cultural purposes. Congress ensured CPB enshrines the independence and neutrality of educational broadcasting. The CPB charter calls for, “…programs of high quality, obtained from diverse sources, will be made available to noncommercial educational television or radio broadcast stations, with strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature.”
The CPB’s funding is annually authorized by Congress and since its early years provided testimony advocating the value of educational broadcasting. In 1969, President Nixon proposed significant cuts to the CPB. A major early milestone for CPB, Fred Rogers and others testified on behalf of the CPB before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications and persuaded them not to cut funding for public broadcasting. The CPB continually justifies funding as educational programs rely on a combination of public and private grants.
The CPB does not own or operate any television or radio broadcasting networks or produce programs; its function is funding educational stations, networks, systems, and programs for public dissemination. CPB is known for providing funding to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), established in 1969 to interconnect public television stations and distribute programming, and National Public Radio (NPR), which is a public radio program service that produces and distributes programming. CPB began funding Sesame Street on PBS in 1969. In the 1970s and 1980s, CPB started funding other notable PBS and NPR programs such as Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, NOVA, American Playhouse, FRONTLINE, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and StoryCorps.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting also funded major public broadcasting technological and cultural initiatives. For example, CPB funded the first satellite television network in the U.S., which started beaming programs in 1978. CPB also provided financial and technical support to develop the first closed captioning system operated nationwide in 1979 on PBS, along with support from the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. By 1980, CPB planned a nationwide public radio satellite system linking 217 public radio stations. One major cultural initiative was the Annenberg/CPB project, dedicated to creating college-level programs and materials as stipulated by a $150 million grant from Walter Annenberg’s foundation to the CPB. CPB also incorporated funding for minorities into its priorities, including grants to support production and distribution and public television and radio by and about African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, beginning in 1987. As networks switched to digital broadcasts, between 2002-2009 CPB distributed special funding to help television stations complete the transition.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting records are arranged as ten series. Materials in the first nine series are arranged by accession and the tenth series is arranged by format.
This collection contains born-digital materials. If you would like to access these materials, please contact us prior to your visit as items may require specialized software for access.
This collection contains audiovisual materials. Items that cannot be used in the Special Collections reading room or are too fragile for researchers require that a digital copy be made prior to use. If you would like to access these materials, please contact us prior to your visit.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) first donated this collection to the University of Maryland Libraries in 1990. Subsequent donations were made in 1991, 1992, 1994, 1997, 2001 and 2006.
This collection was donated to the University of Maryland Libraries by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in a series of installments beginning on June 1, 1990.
This collection has been moderately processed. Aside from some rough groupings of material, the collection came to the Libraries in a limited order by originating department and department functions. The collection is largely reflective of the original order in which it was received, but the processing archivists arranged files into separate series by originating office and date of donation. There is overlap among the series. In most cases, materials are arranged chronologically and by format within their originating offices. For portions of the collection, rubber bands and severely-rusted fasteners were removed, unlabeled folders were assigned labels, and original folders were replaced with acid-free folders.
This collection was processed at varying intervals and varying levels. The John W. Macy, Henry Loomis, and Mary Sceiford files were previously processed as individual collections and have been intellectually reunited under their respective offices within the Corporation for Public Broadcasting records.
The Radio Program Fund audiovisual materials were rehoused in acid-free cassette and CD boxes, and in some instances cracked or missing cases were replaced with acid-free cases. Approximately 1600 videocassettes, including U-Matic video tapes and VHS tapes, were separated by format from the print-format records for ease of access. Cassette tapes and CDs that were deemed duplicates were removed from the collection.
Two film reels of CPB conferences were rehoused in acid-free containers.
Part of the Special Collections and University Archives