The Peabody Award Archive at the University of Georgia Libraries contains most entries to the George Foster Peabody Award since the awards program began in 1940. Administered by the Hensy W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, the Peabody Award recognizes excellence in radio, television, and cable broadcasting. At the end of the annual awards process, the entries--numbering over 1,000 a year in the past four years--are donated by the College of Journalism to the University of Georgia Libraries, where they are administered, preserved and maintained as part of the Libraries' Media Archives. Currently, this growing collection contains 19,000 radio entries dating from 1940, and 21,900 television entries dating from 1949. Genres of programs in the collection include news, documentaries, entertainment, education, children's, and public service programs. One of the unique characteristics of the Peabody Award Archive is that national networks and local stations have equal status within the collection: programs produced by companies with billions of dollars in profits receive the same attention and care as those produced by struggling rural stations.
Because of the diverse nature of the collection, the Archive is a valuable source for scholars, researchers, and producers. The collection can be used to illustrate and illuminate a range of topics: the history of American broadcasting, history according to broadcasting, the development of a particular broadcasting genre, and television's representation of specific groups of citizens.
A significant subset of the collection are programs that focus on African-American history and culture. The Peabody Award Archive contains 891 television programs relevant to this subset dating from 1949 to 1996. Included are such varied programs as a 1949 local special on Baltimore's slums; national and local news programs from the civil rights era; a Cleveland station's 1954 animated children's program about a slave's fight for freedom; a 1954 This is Your Life episode honoring Dr. Laurence C. Jones, an African-American educator (broadcast by NBC seven months after Brown v. Board of Education); a 1968 program from a Chicago public television station featuring interviews with James Baldwin, then-Rep. Harold Washington, and a performance by singer Johnny Hartman; and recent Peabody Award-winning documentaries on Malcolm X and Henry Aaron.
Unfortunately, physical and intellectual access to this important collection is limited. The Archive has discovered that entries on 2" video and 16mm kinescope for many of the titles from 1949 to 1974 are the only known surviving copies of those programs. This alone should make their preservation a top priority. Also, 3/4" videocassette entries from 1973 to 1981 are beginning to lose their signal, thereby threatening the integrity of the collection. In addition, the only intellectual access to the majority of the collection is through the Peabody digests--bound volumes of each year's entry forms with no subject or name indexes. A cataloger has been creating detailed records for the Peabody television collection on OCLC, but the collection is too large for one person to catalog.
The Peabody Award Archive at the University of Georgia Libraries requests a National Endowment for the Humanities grant of $96,590 to support a one-year prefect to preserve the unique 2" video and 16mm kinescope titles in its television collection that focus on African-American history and culture daring from 1949 to 1974, to transfer the 3/4" videocassette titles dating from 1973 to 1981 to a more stable format, and to catalog the 891 works in this subject area.
Archive staff have identified the collection's 16mm film and 2" video programs from 1949 to 1974 that are not commercially distributed and do not exist at their originating stations or at three of the major archives that could potentially have African-American related television holdings (Library of Congress, UCLA Film and Television Archive, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture). For example, all of the titles listed on the previous page, with the exception of the two recent biographies, are the only known copies of those programs. The 54 unique 2" copies will be restored at VidiPax, the leading videotape restorer in the county. Thirty-eight of the 76 16mm films from this period are unique. Fifteen that suffer from various forms of deterioration will be sent to Film Technology, one of the nation's best film preservation laboratories, to have new negatives and prints made; the remaining 23 unique films will be transferred to Betacam-SP at the University of Georgia Libraries' Media Archives. All preserved videotapes and films will be transferred to Betacam-SP masters, 3/4-SP submasters, and VHS user or research copies. VHS copies are available for public use in the Media Archives.
Full-level catalog records will be created in MARC format on OCLC, a national bibliographic utility/database that contains over 36 million records for books, films, sound recordings, videos, serials, scores, and archival materials held at libraries across the country. They will be loaded onto GALIN, the University of Georgia Libraries' online catalog, which is accessible through the Internet and the World Wide Web. Records will have full credits transcribed with all names indexed, summaries, and detailed subject and genre headings. By creating full-level records, researchers around the world will have access to the filmographic information contained in them, information that is not available in any reference source.
A $96,590 National Endowment for the Humanities grant would ensure that these important moving image documents of America's history will not disappear forever, nor be inaccessible to a public that could benefit from the information they contain.