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Louisa A. Nielsen papers

 Collection 0048-MMC-NPBA

Louisa A. Nielsen worked for National Public Radio as director of the Programming Department's Educational Programming Services Division from 1976 to 1979. Her responsibilities included developing and marketing the NPR Audio Cassette Service, member station programming, and radio services for the blind. From 1979 to 1982, she was the program officer of Media Programs for the National Education for the Humanities. There, she directed the development of cultural broadcast programming in the humanities for NPR and PBS. Nielsen was the first, full-time Executive Director of the Broadcast Education Association at the National Association of Broadcasters, in Washington, D.C from 1987-2006.

This collection documents the Educational Services Study Project undertaken by National Public Radio in 1976.


  • 1976 and undated
  • Majority of material found within 1976

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.


0.50 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Louisa A. Nielsen Papers covers the year 1976, documenting the National Public Radio's Educational Services Study Project in a full report and a summary prepared for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


Louisa A. Nielsen earned a B.A. in Communication Arts and Theater from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland in 1972 and a M.A. in Media and Communications Policy from Antioch University, Baltimore in 1975.

From 1972 to 1975, Nielsen worked for the Association of Independent Maryland Schools as the coordinator of Television Production. During those same years, she also served in many positions at Maryvale College Preparatory School. There she chaired the Theater Department, founded and directed the CASTLE theater, and was on the faculty of the English Department.

Starting in 1973 until 1975, Nielsen worked for a few television and radio stations. First, for WMAL-TV's Programming Department, she was a consultant for local programming design and production. Meanwhile, for WITH-AM's Programming Department, she worked as a production assistant in News and Public Affairs. Finally, for WBJC-FM's Programming Department, Nielsen worked as a producer of Arts Programming.

In 1975, Nielsen participated in many projects in the broadcasting and community theater fields. First, she founded and directed the Sidewalk Theater as part of the Mayor's Office of Manpower Resources in Baltimore. This organization consisted of a mobile theater promoting the creation of film making, photography, sculpting, painting, and playwriting in urban communities. Meanwhile, the traveling theater promoted workshops and exhibitions of citizen's artistic creations. In addition, Nielsen served as documentary director of the Washington Community Video Access Center. This center's focus was on community access projects for legal rights as well as community awareness and arts projects. Finally, Nielsen was a consultant for the Educational Programming Department of the Public Broadcasting Service. In this capacity, she consulted to the PBS-BBC group on content, educational programming content and broadcast quality for the series "The Shakespeare Plays".

From 1976 to 1979, Nielsen resumed a teaching career at Antioch's Baltimore and Washington, DC campuses as Adjunct Assistant Professor, Media and Communications Policy, Literature and the Humanities. Meanwhile, during the same three years, she taught courses in television production and the history of broadcasting as an assistant professor at Howard University's School of Communications' Department of Radio, Television and Film.

Nielsen worked for National Public Radio (NPR) from 1976 to 1979 as the Educational Programming Services Division's director for the Programming Department. This division formulated educational and instructional programming policy and produced programs with and for the 220 NPR member stations. Nielsen also developed and marketed the NPR Audio Cassette Service of NPR and member station programming and radio services for the blind. Finally, she represented NPR nationally and internationally on matters of policy through presentation of research papers, conducting workshops and the development and execution of international radio projects with the European Broadcasting Union and the over 100 international EBU members, as well as the U.S. State Department.

From 1979 to 1982, Nielsen was the program officer of Media Programs for the National Endowment for the Humanities. In this capacity, she directed the development of cultural broadcast programming in the humanities for radio with NPR, television and film with PBS stations, independent producers, universities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In addition, she evaluated pilot programs and proposal submissions for content, broadcast quality and market needs. She reviewed and recommended funding of projects to the NEH National Council as well as developed and participated in administrative, fiscal and program policy matters on departmental and agency wide levels. Finally, Nielsen served as a liaison to the broadcast and cable industry for the NEH Media Program in areas of broadcast regulation, legislation, funding trends, distribution and marketing to organizations such as the FCC, CPB, and PBS.

From 1982 to 1983, Nielsen worked for the Marketing Division of the National Captioning Institute as Director of Cable Television, and Assistant Director of Broadcast Television. She directed the Department of Cable Television and Videotext Services to market closed and open captioned television programming and videotext services for the deaf and hearing impaired in the U.S., Japan and Australia. On the broadcast television side, Nielsen developed campaigns to solicit new captioning business from companies presently using the service such as ABC, NBC and PBS. Finally, she developed the Corporations and Friends of NCI, a major fund raising campaign that raises funds from the Fortune 100, major corporate and private foundations for captioning videotext services.

From 1983 to June 1985, Nielsen was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Radio, Television and Film for the Division of Radio and Television in the Department of Communication of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences at George Washington University. There she taught courses such as "Effects of Electronic Media on Social Behavior," "Broadcast TV & Cable News Criticism and History," and "History of Cinema."

From July 1985 to January 1987, Nielsen worked at the George Washington University television station. As director of the Satellite Program Services, she directed the identification of and marketing to target audiences. Nielsen also established program goals and assessed market interest in programming that originated or was received by George Washington University TV. In addition, Nielsen directed the development of workshops to improve the use of the television medium for education. Finally, she managed the INTELSAT Project SHARE (Satellites for Health and Rural Education) to South America and Africa.

From January 1987 to the present, Nielsen has served as executive director of the Broadcast Education Association in Washington, DC. The Association is a national and international education membership association established in 1955. As chief operating officer, Nielsen directs the board of directors, and also directs and manages the Association's fiscal position, organizational mission, membership recruitment, marketing, regional and chapter activities, and other functions.

Nielsen's other professional activities reflect her interest in education, the arts and broadcasting. She belonged to the Villa Julie College's Board of Directors on its Communication Arts committee from 1975 to 1978. From 1976 to 1979, she belonged to the Library of Congress' Center for the Study of the Book Board as well as CPB's Educational Programming Committee's Board of Directors. In 1979, among other activities, Nielsen belonged to the Board of Directors of the Joint Council on Educational Telecommunications. From 1980 to 1982, she belonged to the Task Force on Children's Radio Programming of the Jon and Mary Markle Foundation. Meanwhile, she chaired the Arts and Cultural Programming section of the D.C. Cable Coalition. In 1985, Nielsen was a board member of the Duke Ellington School for the Arts, as well as a reader and reviwer of communications and telecommunications projects for the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education. Finally, in 1986, she was an instructor for the marketing seminar of the PBS National Narrowcast Service. From January 1987 to the present, her activities have shown a willingness to lend expertise and enthusiasm to the promotion of broadcasting excellence. She has been a board member on many awards panels, such as George Foster Peabody Awards for excellence in broadcasting and cable and the Alexander Hamilton Awards for programming from the White House Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution. Nielsen has judged competitions as a finals judge for the 9th Annual Network ACE Awards sponsored by the National Cable Television Association and a judge for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Programming Awards. Other activities include being a presenter at the Public Service Satellite Consortium teleconference series on Distance Learning through telecommunications and satellites. During this time, Nielsen has belonged to many educational and broadcasting organizations such as the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Broadcast Pioneers, American Women in Radio and Television, and the National Academy of Cable Programming.


Organized as one series.

Series 1
National Public Radio

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Louisa A. Nielsen Papers was donated to the National Public Broadcasting Archives, University of Maryland Libraries by Louisa A. Nielsen in February of 1991.

Guide to the Louisa A. Nielsen papers
Processed by Karen E. King
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

  • 2007-04-15: EAD markup checked and verified using JEdit software by Karen E. King.
  • 2008-09-18: EAD revised by Karen E. King.
  • 2010-07-19: EAD revised by Karen E. King.
  • 1995-11-01: Revised by Karen E. King.
  • 2017-11-05: Finding aid reviewed and edited by Rebecca Thayer.
  • 2018-07-31: Minor updates and revisions made post ArchivesSpace migration 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