James W. Armsey (1918-2008) oversaw the formation of educational television for the Ford Foundation in the 1950s and 1960s. He was program director of the Foundation's Fund for Adult Education beginning in 1957 and worked on developing a group of noncommercial television stations as part of the Educational Television and Radio Center. He was also instrumental in the creation of educational station WNDT in 1961. The collection documents Armsey's career at the Ford Foundation.
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The Papers of James Armsey cover the year 1992 with undated material. The collection documents Armsey’s career at the Ford Foundation. Materials include a list of all of the grants Armsey was responsible for while at the Ford Foundation between the years of 1959 and 1968 and a copy of Don McNeil’s Public Broadcasting timeline with attached comments by Armsey.
James Armsey held a bachelor’s degree in Journalism with majors in political science, psychology, and education. He spent five years in the Army, first in the signal corps, then cryptography, and finally public relations. After leaving the Army, Armsey received his master’s degree in political science and the University of Illinois.
After receiving his degrees, Armsey worked for Henry Heald at Illinois Tech. When Heald became the president of the Ford Foundation in October 1956, Armsey followed as an assistant to the president. In 1957, he became a program director with the Foundation’s Fund for Adult Education, working on the development of a group of noncommercial television stations as part of the Educational Television and Radio Center. The term “the fourth network,” used to describe public television, has been attributed to Armsey.
Armsey was instrumental in the creation of New Jersey educational television station WNDT in 1961. He continued to work for the Ford Foundation, but not on educational television topics.
The James W. Armsey Papers were donated to the National Public Broadcasting Archives, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries by James W. Armsey in July of 1992.