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WNET records

 Collection 0104-MMC-NPBA

WNET/Channel 13 is the primary public television station for the New York City market, licensed to Newark, New Jersey, United States. Owned by (formerly known as the Educational Broadcasting Corporation), the call letters represent National Educational Television (NET), the predecessor to Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

The WNET records span the years 1952-1987 and documents the history of WNET, the history and role of National Educational Television, and educational television programming in general. The collection includes reports, correspondence, memoranda, surveys, publications, program proposals, scripts, news clippings, press releases, newsletters, and notebooks.


  • 1952-1987 and undated
  • Majority of material found within 1974-1979

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.


21.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

Consisting of reports, correspondence, memoranda, surveys, publications, program proposals, scripts, news clippings, press releases, newsletters, and notebooks, this collection documents the activities of Channel 13 in national and local programming, public affairs, funding, planned giving, planning, and the use of educational television.

Information is included on the history of WNET, on its transfer from New Jersey to New York, and on its audience surveys in New York and New Jersey. The collection also documents the history and role of National Educational Television; the history and use of educational television; long-range planning at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS); and federal legislation that affected public television. Correspondents include Ethan Allen Hitchcock, chairman of the board, WNET; John Jay Iselin, president, WNET; Angela N. Solomon, public information department, WNET; Joseph S. Iseman, legal counsel for ETMA; Robert B. Meyner, governor of New Jersey; Newton N. Minow, chairman of the FCC; Howard L. Shephard, chairman, ETMA; Samuel B. Gould, president, Educational Broadcasting Corporation; Hartford N. Gunn, Jr., vice-chairman, PBS; and Robert B. Hudson, senior vice president, National Educational Television.

Administrative History

In 1946 Bremer Broadcasting Corporation applied for and received a permit to construct a television station to serve the Newark, NJ, area. The corporation began construction of a transmitter in West Orange, NJ, after being awarded use of Channel 13. The corporation gave the channel the call letters WATV. Because of transmission problems, the station, with the approval of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), moved its transmitter to the Empire State Building where six other channels also were housed.

Atlantic Television Corporation, successor corporation to Bremer, filed a transfer application on October 28, 1957, naming as transferee National Telefilm Associates, Inc. (NTA), a television film distributor, which sought WATV as a commercial outlet. The FCC approved the transfer on March 28, 1958, and the call letters of the station then became WNTA.

When it was rumored in 1960 that NTA, because of financial difficulties, intended to sell its license, John White, director of the National Educational Television and Radio Center (NETRC), indicated to members of the Metropolitan Educational Television Association (META), a voluntary support group for educational broadcasting, that there might be an opportunity to establish an educational television outlet in New York. White persuaded Howard Shephard, chairman of the board of the Greater New York Foundation and retired chairman of the board of the First City National Bank, to invest his time and resources in establishing in New York an educational television station. A new committee, Educational Television for the Metropolitan Area (ETMA), was formed to promote the project. Besides Shephard, members included John D. Rockefeller III, chairman, Lincoln Center; Arthur A. Houghton, Jr., president of Steuben Glass; Devereux C. Josephs, former board chairman of New York Life Insurance Company; and George D. Stoddard, chancellor of New York University.

Though the State of New Jersey, with the support of then-Governor Robert B. Meyner, went to court to stop the sale of the station, the state eventually dropped its suit and the FCC approved the sale to ETMA (later to be called Educational Broadcasting Corporation) in 1961. The station became known as WNDT (which stood for New Directions in Television). In 1970, WNDT merged with National Educational Television to become WNET/Thirteen.


This collection is arranged into eight series:

Series 1
Series 2
Auction Catalogs
Series 3
Legal and Legislative
Series 4
Personal Files
Series 5
Series 6
Reports and Surveys
Series 7
National Educational Television
Series 8
Public Broadcasting Service

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The WNET Records were donated to the University of Maryland Libraries by the WNET Reference Library in June of 1994, and June and July of 1995.

Processing Information

Materials were placed in acid-free folders.

Guide to the WNET records
Processed by Wanda Finney and 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.

Revision Statements

  • 1998-02-01: Revised by Karen E. King.
  • 2017-10-30: Finding aid reviewed and revised post ArchivesSpace migration by Rebecca Thayer.
  • 2021-08-13: 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