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David S. Prowitt papers

 Collection 0054-MMC-NPBA

David Sherburne Prowitt (1938-2008) became an executive producer at WNET in 1964 after working for the Chicago Sun-Times, American Airlines, and ABC News. He developed National Educational Television's first science series, Spectrum, serving as producer, writer, and correspondent. Prowitt moved to Washington, D.C. in 1971, where he became a news correspondent and eventually WNET Program Division Washington Bureau Chief. His other endeavors at WNET included developing This Week with Bill Moyers, and Bill Moyers Journal. He managed the Science Program Group at WNET, producing shows such as The Killers (on disease), and The Thin Edge (on mental health). The collection documents Prowitt's work for WNET's Science Group and Science Program Group, Inc.


  • 1971-1989 and undated

Use and Access to Collection

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.

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.


5.5 Linear Feet (11 Hollinger boxes)

Scope and Content of Collection

The David S. Prowitt Papers contains material from 1971 to 1989. The bulk of the collection is from 1971 to 1981 when Prowitt worked for WNET's Science Group and for Science Program Group, Inc. The collection includes correspondence, administrative material (e.g. tax records), as well as video tapes and scripts.


David Sherburne Prowitt was born on May 29, 1934. He attended the University of Chicago (1951-1952), the Sorbonne (1953-1954), Roosevelt University (1953-1954), the University of Wisconsin (1961), and Brooklyn College (1962-1964).

Prowitt began his career in 1952 as a reporter, assistant picture editor, and rewrite man for the Chicago Sun-Times. In 1956, he moved to American Airlines where he served as Public Relations Manager and Regional Public Relations Representative. As Public Relations Manager, Prowitt ran a campaign to promoting American Airline's use of the Boeing 707 for national service.

Prowitt moved to ABC News in 1960. From 1960 to 1964, he was a news writer, first for ABC Radio, and then for ABC-TV. Later in his tenure at ABC news, Prowitt became a producer, working on live and taped film coverage.

In 1964, David Prowitt was hired as an Executive Producer at WNET. Prowitt developed NET's first science series, Spectrum, serving as producer, writer and correspondent. In 1971, Prowitt moved to Washington, D.C. where he became a news correspondent and eventually WNET-TV Program Division Washington Bureau Chief. As a correspondent in Vietnam filming for the NET series The Borders of War, Prowitt became the first public broadcasting reporter to broadcast from a combat zone. Prowitt's other endeavors at WNET included developing This Week with Bill Moyers, and Bill Moyers Journal. He managed the Science Program Group at WNET producing shows such as The Killers, and The Thin Edge.

From 1973 through 1983, David Prowitt served as CEO and Chairman of the Board at Science Program Group, Inc. Prowitt participated in all levels of science programming production, from writing and correspondence work to project director on grants and contracts. Programs he produced during this time include, The Weather Machine, Is Anybody Out There? and the Emmy Award Winning (1976) In Performance at Wolf Trap I and II. David Prowitt left The Science Program Group in 1983 to found David Prowitt Productions Inc. This company produced science programming for general and specific audiences.

Beginning in 1986, Prowitt worked for Public Interest Communications (PIC), Inc. and Medi+Cation, Inc. carrying on fundraising activities with clients such as NOW, The Cousteau Society, and the Nature Conservancy. He served as President and Executive Producer at Medi+Cation, producing health-related audio-visual material for hospitals, doctors, and their patients.

Prowitt was a member of the Board of Directors of the American Lung Association, American Science Film Association, and the American Trauma Society. He was a member of the National Association of Science Writers and the National Geographic Society. He also served as consultant to the President's Committee on Mental Retardation, the National Cancer Institute, the Veterans Administration, and the Public Broadcasting Service.

During his career, Prowitt also published articles in several magazines. He authored the 12th Annual Report of the National Science Board (1980-1981), Television and Bi-Centennial - AAAS Study (1975), and a novel entitled, We Found a Lost World (1957).

Prowitt died at age 78 in 2008.


This collection is organized as five series.

Series 1
American Trauma Society (ATS)
Series 2
Series 3
Program Materials
Series 4
Science Program Group, Inc.
Series 5

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The David S. Prowitt papers was donated to the University of Maryland at College Park Libraries by David Prowitt in August of 1991.

Processing Information

This collection has been highly processed. Aside from some rough groupings of similar material, the collection came to the Libraries in no particular order. The processing archivist arranged files into separate series and sub-series, however, there is overlap among the series. In most cases, materials are arranged by subject and date. The original folders were replaced with acid-free folders and rehoused in acid-free archival boxes.

Guide to the David S. Prowitt papers
Processed by Mark Walden.
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

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742