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Douglas F. Bodwell papers

 Collection 0126-MMC-NPBA

Douglas F. Bodwell (1943-1998) worked for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) as director of the Office of Education, an office he created, from 1974 to 1998. He helped acquire funding for 22 television series, including the Emmy Award winners Reading Rainbow, 3-2-1 Contact, and Square One TV. He also advised on Kids America, a 90-minute public radio show for young children that aired from 1984 through 1987. It won a Peabody award in 1984.

Bodwell was considered an innovator, encouraging stations to try new ways of using programs for teaching. He organized the CPB's participation in a five-year outreach project to encourage adults to learn to read. He also helped initiate the Public Broadcasting Service's adult college learning service, a computer network for stations and schools called Learning Link, and the Satellite Educational Resources Consortium, a 23-state distance education partnership.

This collection consists of materials Bodwell collected regarding “Operation Alphabet,” a twenty-week television program produced by WFIL-TV, Philadelphia, teaching adult literacy.


  • 1961-1971 and undated
  • Majority of material found within 1965-1971

Use and Access to Collection

There are no restricted files in this collection.

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.


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Douglas F. Bodwell spent his early life in New Hampshire where he attended public school in Keene, and St. Paul's School in Concord. He went on to receive a A.B. from Columbia in 1964 and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1973.

After graduating from Columbia, Bodwell planned service programs and determined recipient eligibility for the New York City Welfare Department. During the following two years, as Assistant Director of the Columbia College Fund, he planned fundraisers, organized volunteers and created a parents fund. From 1967 to 1968, he worked at Fisk University as Assistant to the President. Here he not only reorganized the public relations office and established the development office, but he also advised the president on student unrest. Bodwell left this position to work for the American Council on Education (ACE) in Washington, DC in 1968. He started at ACE as the Assistant Director of the Academic Internship program, a job that required him to administer a program giving nine-month internships for training in academic administration to faculty and staff members. In 1972, he became a staff associate in the Office of Academic Affairs for ACE helping with the association's activities with faculty, students and curriculum. He also aided military personnel by working with the Serviceman's Opportunity College.

From 1974 to 1998, Bodwell worked for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)as director of the Office of Education, an office he created. As CPB's chief education officer, he planned, developed goals, and assigned activities to senior management while also retaining complete authority for the Office of Education. While at CPB, Bodwell worked on the Annenberg/CPB project as first advisee to the president, Deputy Director, and finally as the Director of the project. His duties for the project included the development of a $10 million annual funding project for educational telecommunications, as well as work on funding and planning for The Brain, The Constitution: that Delicate Balance, Congress: We the People, The Mechanical Universe, and For All Practical Purposes: Introduction to Contemporary Mathematics. From 1983 to 1985 he served as Executive Assistant to the President of CPB. In this job, he advised and assisted in policy and administrative matters, while also developing projects with Corporations in Support of Public Television. In addition, he advised on Kids America and Project Literacy US. In 1990, Bodwell launched a project on President and Governors' Year 2000 Education Goals. He also helped fund instructional television, conducted national surveys, promoted educational television nationally, and obtained funding for the Emmy award winners 3-2-1 Contact, Reading Rainbow, and Square One TV.

Douglas F. Bodwell died in 1998.


Organized as one series:

  1. Series 1: Operation Alphabet

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Douglas F. Bodwell papers were donated to the National Public Broadcasting Archives, University of Maryland Libraries by Douglas F. Bodwell in March of 1992.

Guide to the Douglas F. Bodwell papers
Processed by Bryan Cornell
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

  • 1992-12: Revised by Bryan Cornell, December 1992
  • 2007-04-15: EAD markup checked and verified using JEdit software by Karen E. King, April 2007.
  • 2007-06-26: EAD revised by Karen E. King, June 2007
  • 2018-01-04: Minor updates and revisions made following ArchivesSpace migration by Joanne Archer
  • 2021-08-20: 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