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Explore modern history and culture with the American Archive of Public Broadcasting

The American Archive of Public Broadcasting gathers more than 70 years of public broadcasting from around the country. This free resource is a critical tool for studying 20th and 21st Century culture and history. And it is a must-share across content areas and grade levels.

A collaboration between the WGBH Educational Foundation and the Library of Congress, the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB), was established in 2013 “to coordinate a national effort to identify, preserve, and make accessible as much as possible the historical record of publicly funded broadcasting in the U.S.”

Currently, AAPB has digitized over 100,000 historic programs and original materials from stations across the U.S. 47,000 of these programs are available for streaming in the Online Reading Room (ORR). Recently Sesame Street donated digital copies of its 50 years of episodes.

Although it’s been around for a couple of years, a recent webinar celebrated AAPB’s newly added collections and exhibits and enhanced search functionality.

I spoke with Tom Bober, Library Media Specialist at R.M. Captain Elementary in Clayton, Missouri and AAPB Education Advisory Committee Co-Chair who presented during the webinar. Tom and I discussed the many ways AAPB resources might be used in classrooms and libraries to engage learners across the disciplines, support their inquiry and projects and to add relevant and compelling media resources to teachers’ toolkits.

Users can browse the collection by theme or show format . . .

or they may search (or use Advanced Search) and filter results by media type (sound or video), asset type (for instance, program or raw interview), genre, topic, contributing and producing organization, and by year. Users may als search the AAPB for specific events and time periods. Icons identify audio and video content.

Each record offers: a media player, a searchable transcript, and most include hyperlinked metadata to increase discoverability across records. In addition to English, you’ll find content in French (from Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s En Français Collection), Spanish, and the Alaskan indigenous language Yup’ik (from KYUK in Alaska).

Social studies classes will appreciate the archived nightly and weekly news series offering a lens on regional, national and international events. For instance, every episode of the PBS NewsHour from 1975 to 2018 will soon be available.

If you work with primary sources, you’ll be delighted to discover more than “6000 full-length interviews with historians, scholars, historical figures, and eyewitnesses to historical events and local legends” as well as unedited interviews content that didn’t make the final cuts of documentaries. Of course, there’s a wealth of humanities and science broadcasting as well.

But my favorite parts of the AAPB are discoveries made possible by the special collections and the curated exhibits.

Among the Special Collections are:

Ken Burns’ Civil War Interviews

Stonewall Uprising Interviews

Freedom Rider Interviews

Eyes on the Prize Interviews

The Murder of Emmett Till Interviews

PBS NewsHour

Reconstruction Interviews

1964 Interviews

Curated Exhibits bring content together from local and national broadcasts and offer contextual commentary contributed by guest curators and staff.

For more information:

Webinar recording

Vimeo recording

Webinar PowerPoint

To keep up to date on new additions, you may sign up for the AAPB newsletter

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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