The Chicago Historical Society This repository of manuscripts and materials documenting Chicago’s history is interesting for several reasons. Its manuscript collections highlight many aspects of Chicago’s radio history – as an important site of broadcast innovation since the 1920s. For instance, Jack Cooper’s papers are here – a key figure in African American broadcasting. An online catalogue is in progress but not yet available. Also, the Society mounts exhibitions on the history of Chicago that are well worth a visit. That schedule is posted online.
The Library of American Broadcasting, College Park, MD Part of the University of Maryland library system, this center holds a wide-ranging collection of audio and video recordings, books, pamphlets, periodicals, personal collections, oral histories, photographs, scripts and vertical files devoted exclusively to the history of broadcasting. Based on the former Broadcast Pioneers Library, created by the NAB, but expanded and improved.
The Museum of Broadcast Communications
Located on downtown Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, the museum’s A.C. Nielsen Jr. Research Center contains over 50,000 hours of radio broadcasts, 13,000 television programs, 11,000 television commercials and 4,500 newscasts. You can search the collection on line. In addition, you can tour the Radio Hall of Fame Gallery: “See Charlie McCarthy, Effie Klinker and Mortimer Snerd. Step into Jack Benny¹s vault and count the cash. Take a peak inside Fibber McGee¹s closet. See early radio collectibles like decoder rings and Little Orphan Annie Ovaltine mugs.”
Museum of Television and Radio, NYC and LA A bi-coastal set of high profile and well-funded museums housing hundreds of thousands of radio and television recordings, available for viewing/listening to the public; research library with some manuscript and photo collections as well. No online catalogue, surprisingly.
The National Archives
Though the main NARA site is in Washington, DC, College Park also serves as a satellite repository for some of the National Archives collections most relevant to radio study such as the FCC files and the OWI records, as well as most sound recordings, photographs, and motion pictures.
The National Public Broadcasting Archive Housed at College Park in the University of Maryland library system as well, containing not only the papers of National Public Radio, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS, and other related organizations, but also those of The Pacifica Foundation, the Children’s Television Workshop, and collections from many significant individuals. This website is a wonderful resource for broadcasting research in its own right, with links to dozens of other collections and archives.
The Pavek Museum of Broadcasting
Located in suburban Minneapolis, this museum claims to house “one of the world's finest collections of antique radio, television, and broadcast equipment.”
Wisconsin Historical Society ArchivesandThe Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research together form one of the world's major archives of research materials relating to the US entertainment industry. Located only two blocks from the conference site, the WSH and WCFTR Archives contain the papers of hundreds of individuals, corporations, and organizations of interest to media historians. In addition to the paper records, materials preserved include fifteen thousand motion pictures, television shows and videotapes, two million still photographs and promotional graphics, and several thousand sound recordings. The archives catalog is available online at http://arcat.library.wisc.edu. Links there will also take you to the Wisconsin Historical Society and the WCTFR webpage. Below we highlight only a few of the relevant collections.
National Broadcasting Company Records (1921-1969): contains a indescribable wealth of materials (memos, scripts, reports, etc) pertaining to all facets of NBC operations during the period, from the era of experimental, pre-network broadcasting through the transition to television. Although covering up to 1969, the collection’s materials trail off noticeably, especially after 1960. This is the most complete documentation of a major broadcasting company available in the US. The search register is available on-line through Arcat (enter National Broadcasting Company as author in a guided search term).
A.C. Nielsen Company, reports (1943-1957): ratings reports and a few interesting miscellanea from AC Nielsen. Register available online.
E.P.H. James papers (1922-1976): James was an influential advertising/PR man, originally from Great Britain, who worked as NBC's sales & promotions manager from its earliest days, then for Mutual Broadcasting 1946-49, then at AC Nielsen 1954-1971. He played a key role in defining and communicating the nature of the “American system” of broadcasting. Some interesting documents regarding Nielsen’s entry into Great Britain in the 1950s as well. Register available online.
Irna Phillips papers (1931-1968): papers, scripts, and correspondence of “the mother of soap opera,” an incredibly prolific producer of daytime serials and a major influence on the genre. Included are scripts by Phillips herself and by Radio, Inc., to which she was a consultant; outlines; advertising copy; and correspondence with listeners, viewers, networks, and advertising agencies. Best represented are Another World (NBC), Brighter Day (CBS), The Guiding Light (CBS and NBC), Right to Happiness (NBC), Road of Life (NBC), Today's Children (NBC), and Woman in White (CBS and NBC), though there are files for many other daytime serials. Register is unfortunately not yet available online, so you can either look at the paper register on site, or call 608-264-6466 and request that a photocopy be mailed.
Fibber McGee & Molly Scripts (on microfilm): contains the sponsor's corrected copies of scripts, including commercials. Also includes some 1941 scripts for a program called "Hap Hazard".
Kaltenborn, H(ans) V. (1878-1965): personal papers of broadcasting journalism pioneer includes everything from scripts and scrapbooks to recordings and voluminous fan mail. Register is unfortunately not yet available online, so you can either look at the paper register on site, or call 608-264-6466 and request that a photocopy be mailed.
Mass Communications Ephemera Collection (1930-1980): Publicity, reports, pamphlets, and other printed ephemera separated from a bunch of different sources. Some television material is included. Register available online.
National Association of Broadcasters (1938-1982): Records and reports of the primary trade association of broadcast station owners, both radio and television, in the US. Although most NAB activities concern the establishment of broadcasting codes and support of the industry in matters relating to government regulation, the bulk of the collection pertains to the association's research function. Included are materials on studies and surveys by the Broadcast Measurement Bureau, the National Opinion Research Center, the Television Allocations Study Organization, and the NAB itself. Register available online.