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Ralph B. Rogers papers

 Collection 0059-MMC-NPBA

Industrialist Ralph Burton Rogers (1909-1997) is considered one of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) founders for organizing more than 200 independent, mostly educational stations into a national public television system. He served as chairman of PBS from 1973 to 1979. He was widely credited with resisting the Nixon Administration's efforts to push public television out of public affairs broadcasting and cut its financing.

Rogers became interested in public broadcasting in the late 1960s, serving as chairman of KERA-TV in Dallas from 1968 to 1972. In 1972, Rogers chaired a board of lay leaders to examine the possibilities of long-range financing for public broadcasting. Rogers became chief executive of a recently reorganized PBS in 1973 and remained in this position until Newton C. Minow succeeded him in 1978.

The collection contains correspondence, memoranda, and reports regarding the Office of Telecommunications Policy, the financing of public broadcasting, and the formation of PBS.


  • 1969-1990 and undated
  • Majority of material found within 1969-1981

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research use.

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.


2.00 Linear Feet


Industrialist and PBS executive Ralph B. Rogers was born in Boston in 1909 and was educated at Northeastern University. Before his involvement with public broadcasting, Rogers worked for or ran many industrial concerns, including Cummins Diesel Engine, Edwards Company, Hill and Rogers Diesel and Aircraft, Armstrong Rubber Export, and Rogers International. In 1950, he started work with Texas Industries in Dallas and by the following year he was chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of this company.

For much of his life, Rogers has taken an active role in public broadcasting at both the local and the national level. In Dallas, Rogers acted as the Chairman of radio station KERA from about 1968 to 1972. This chairmanship led to involvement at the national level when, in 1972, Rogers headed a board of other lay chairmen to look into the possibilities of long-range financing for public broadcasting. Rogers also clarified the role of lay chairmen by creating and chairing the National Coordinating Committee for Governing Board Chairmen. In 1973, Rogers was named chief executive officer of a recently reorganized Public Broadcasting Service, a position he used to improve relations with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He also served as chairman of the PBS Board of Governors. Rogers served in this position until he was succeeded by Newton C. Minow in 1978.

In addition to his work for PBS, Rogers was chairman emeritus of the Public Communication Foundation of North Texas; a member of the Board of Directors of the National Captioning Institute; and a cofounder of the Children's Television Workshop.

Rogers's other activities included being a trustee for Northeastern University, volunteering for St. Marks School, Texas, and holding emeritus status at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society. In addition, he was the President of the Dallas Foundation for Health Education, and Research.

Rogers died in 1997.


Organized as two series.

  1. Series 1: Office of Telecommunications Policy
  2. Series 2: Public Broadcasting Service

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Ralph B. Rogers papers were donated to the National Public Broadcasting Archives, University of Maryland Libraries by Ralph B. Rogers in July 1990, March 1991 and October 1994.

Guide to the Ralph B. Rogers papers
Processed by Bryan E. Cornell and Karen E. King, March 1993.
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

  • 1994-11-01: Revised by Karen E. King.
  • 2007-04-15: EAD markup checked and verified using JEdit software by Karen E. King.
  • 2008-11-14: EAD revised by Karen E. King.
  • 2011-04-07: EAD revised by Karen E. King.
  • 2017-11-12: Finding aid reviewed and edited by Rebecca Thayer.
  • 2019-01-18: Finding aid reviewed and minor edits made by Duncan Griffin.
  • 2021-08-06: 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