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Chalmers Marquis papers

 Collection 0039-MMC-NPBA

Chalmers H. Marquis, Jr. (1927-2018), public television pioneer, began his career as a producer and director at CBS TV and WGN Chicago. In 1955, he joined Chicago's educational television station, WTTW, where he served as a Producer and Director in Promotion, Development, Fundraising, and as Director of Programming.

In 1955, Chalmers joined Chicago's educational television station, WTTW. In 1965 he moved to Washington, D.C., first to work at the National Association of Educational Broadcasters, then as VP of National Affairs at PBS, and later at the National Association of Public Television Stations. He helped pass the Public Broadcasting Act and frequently lobbied Congress on behalf of the Children's Television Workshop. Chalmers was awarded the Ralph Lowell Award for his contributions to public broadcasting in 1992.

This collection documents Marquis' work as a lobbyist for the Children's Television Workshop.


  • 1958-2001
  • Majority of material found within 1986-1993

Use and Access to Collection

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

Duplication and Copyright Information

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 proected 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.


4.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

Chalmers Marquis Papers cover the years 1978 to 2001 and also contain some undated material. The bulk of the material ranges from 1986 to 1993. Correspondence, reports, congressional hearings, speeches and writings, program materials, news clippings, contracts, articles, legislative materials and press releases focus on Marquis's work as a lobbyist for the Children's Television Workshop, as well as his involvement with the American Open University, the JCET Needs Assessment Project Advisory Committee and the Old Timers Reunion.


Chalmers Marquis, a longtime lobbyist for educational television, attended the University of Chicago College before moving on to the University of Illinois, where he trained in journalism and broadcasting and studied under Frank Schooley. While at the University, Marquis created a campus radio station that broadcast from a photography store in Urbana. Upon completion of his courses in 1950, Marquis accepted a job as a "dolly-pusher" at WGN TV, where he remained for three years. He then took a position at WBBM TV, the CBS affiliate in Chicago. There, he produced and directed numerous commercials in addition to his work with regular programming.

Marquis's desire to see television used as an instrument of learning rather than merely passive entertainment prompted his acceptance in 1955 of a position with WTTW, Chicago's public television station. First working as a producer/director, Marquis soon moved into the realm of public relations and development, and eventually became director of programming. He remained with WTTW for nine years, during which time the station was the largest public broadcaster in the United States, setting the standard for educational broadcasting.

Despite various obstacles, such as a lack of funding and a kilowatt signal approximately one quarter as powerful as those of commercial stations, Marquis fostered the genesis of numerous projects and expanded WTTW. He organized Chicago Area School Television (CAST), which broadcasted two channels into local classrooms.

In 1965 Marquis became the first full-time executive director of Educational Television Stations (ETS, created in 1963), the newly-formed television arm of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB). He participated in the establishment of the Educational Television Stations Program Service (later the Public Television Library), which supplied programming to public television stations. He was also involved in the movement to create the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

Due to the consistent lack of funding for public television stations, Marquis spent increasing amounts of time lobbying for government funding, particularly from administrative departments such as Health, Education, and Welfare. He fought to push through the House of Representatives legislation that eventually became the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.

Marquis's work at ETS led to his position in 1970 as Executive Vice President of NAEB, which he followed with a term at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Marquis then became a full-time lobbyist as legislative liaison for the National Association of Public Television Stations (NAPTS), which later became America's Association of Public Television, Inc. (APTV), a lobbying arm of the Association of America's Public Television Stations (APTS).

Along with his work for NAPTS, Marquis frequently lobbied Congress on behalf of the Children's Television Workshop. He spent much of his time gathering evidence, later presented to various congressional committees, demonstrating the positive impact of public broadcasting and the necessity for its continued existence. His work involved efforts to obtain funds from the National Science Foundation, to procure government funding for CTW programs such as 3-2-1 Contact, Square One TV, and Ghostwriter, and to further the development of the National Endowment for Children's Educational Television.


Organized as four series.

Series 1
Children's Television Workshop
Series 2
American Open University
Series 3
Joint Council on Education Television (JCET)
Series 4
Educational Material

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Chalmers Marquis Papers was donated to the National Public Broadcasting Archives, University of Maryland Libraries by Chalmers Marquis in January of 1991, October of 1992, and June of 1995.

Related Materials

This finding aid does not incorporate one additional accession (2013-146) to the Chalmer Marquis papers. A inventory of this accesion has been prepared and is available to researchers.

Guide to the Chalmers Marquis papers
Processed by Shana L. Visser, June 1996 and Laura Schnikter, February 2017
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

  • 2005-05-15: EAD markup checked and verified using JEdit software by Karen E. King.
  • 2007-05-18: EAD revised by Karen E. King.
  • 2008-09-18: EAD revised by Karen E. King.
  • 2017-03-07: Finding aid revised and updated by Laura Schnitker.
  • 2017-07-12: Series 3 and 4 added by Joanne Archer
  • 2017-12-14: Minor updates and revisions made by Joanne Archer
  • 2021-07-23: 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