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William G. Harley papers

 Collection 0119-MMC-NPBA

William Gardner Harley (1911-1998) began his broadcasting career in 1936 at WHA radio at the University of Wisconsin, became director from 1940-1944, and then served as WHA-TV manager from 1954-1960. He was program coordinator of Ford-National Association Educational Broadcasters' Adult Educational Radio Project from 1950-1952.

From 1960 to 1975, he was president of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB). During that time, Harley was also director of the Joint Council on Educational Telecommunications (JCET) and its president from 1973 to 1975. From 1981 to 1985, Harley chaired the Peabody Awards Board.

The collection contains part of a NAEB proposal for funding and speeches of former NAEB presidents Frank Schooley and William Harley on professionalization and future of educational broadcasting.


  • 1942-1965
  • Majority of material found within 1960-1965

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research use.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials page for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


0.25 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The William G. Harley Papers includes part of a National Association of Educational Broadcasters'(NAEB) Proposal, evidentially for funding, and speeches of Frank Schooley and William Harley, former presidents of NAEB, concerning the professionalization and the future of educational broadcasting.


William Harley was born on October 9, 1911 in Madison, Wisconsin, to Joel Alva and Elizabeth Gardner Harley. He received his BA from the University of Wisconsin in 1935. Upon graduation, he began work at the Wisconsin Broadcasting System as chief announcer while studying for his masters at the University of Wisconsin. He joined the staff of WHA in Madison and assumed the duties of an Instructor in Madison's Department of Radio-Television Education in 1936. He completed the work for his masters in 1940. In June of that year, he married Jewell Bunnell with whom he would have four daughters, Cynthia, Linda, Gratia, and Gail. He became Program Director of the Wisconsin Broadcasting System in 1940 and from 1944 to 1946 served as Acting Director for the System. Harley worked up through the ranks of the Department if Radio-Television Education in the 1940's and 1950's. He was named Assistant Professor in 1942, Associate Professor in 1953, and Professor in 1957.

From 1950 to 1952, Harley was the program coordinator for the Ford-National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB) Adult Education Radio Project. Harley left Wisconsin for Washington, D.C., in 1960 to serve as President of NAEB. Concurrently, he became the Director of the Joint Council on Educational Telecommunications (JCET). He remained in these two positions until 1975. From 1973 to 1975, he also served as President of JCET. Harley received an honorary LL.D from the University of Wisconsin in 1972.

Upon stepping down from NAEB and JCET, he served on the Peabody Awards Board. He was Chairman of this Board from 1981 to 1985. During this period, Harley served on several national and international commissions dealing with communications including UNESCO and the Mass Communications Commission. He even served as Chairman of the Mass Communications Commission from 1967 to 1968 and 1970 to 1976. While working on these commissions, Harley consulted for such organizations as the Rothschild Foundation, the Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Department of State among others. Harley retired in 1987 except for a current stint on the Board of Directors of Americans for Universality of UNESCO and his editorship of The Oldtimers Newsletter. Finally, in 1989, Harley served on the National Committee of OPT IN America, a nonprofit public advocacy group dedicated to promoting the development of fiber optic technology for home and school.

Harley was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Eta Sigma, Beta Theta Pi, and the International and Cosmos Clubs of Washington.

Harley died in 1998.


Organized as one series:

Series 1
National Association of Educational Broadcasters

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The William G. Harley Papers was donated to the National Public Broadcasting Archives, University of Maryland Libraries by William Harley in two parts. The first segment was donated in February of 1991 and the second in May of 1991.

Guide to the William G. Harley papers
Processed by Susan McElrath, November 1991.
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

  • 1998-11: Revised by Karen E. King, November 1998.
  • 2007-04-15: EAD markup checked and verified using JEdit software by Karen E. King, April 2007.
  • 2008-03-21: EAD revised by Stephanie Selzer, March 2008
  • 2017-09: Finding aid updated and reviewed post ArchivesSpace migration by Rebecca Thayer.
  • 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