Made possible by viewers like you: Maryland Public Television finding aid goes live!

black-and-white images of public broadcasting professionals in the background. white and yellow text in the foreground reads: Made Possible by Viewers Like You: Maryland Public Television Turns 50, September 2019-July 2020.
Special Collections and University Archives exhibition poster for Made Possible by Viewers Like You: Maryland Public Television Turns 50

The Mass Media and Culture unit in Special Collections and University Archives holds a wide range of collections documenting U.S. television and radio broadcasting history, including the Maryland Public Television (MPT) collection. In celebration of the University Libraries’ extended “Year of MPT” celebrating the organization’s 50th anniversary, we just published our finding aid for the MPT records! This finding aid is an invaluable resource for our campus community and for the public to learn about this unique and vital collection documenting the history of Maryland’s only state-wide public television broadcaster.

While the library is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, explore the finding aid from home. There is something for everyone in the 3,920 itemized videos (including over 700 with links to digitized content) and the 47 boxes of print records and photographs:

Behind the scenes: What’s in the finding aid? 

The finding aid is a guide to the entire Maryland Public Television collection, including print records, photographs, and recordings on open-reel film, Betacam, U-Matic, and VHS tapes. The print records include administrative records, correspondence, memos, program guides, promotional materials, publications, marketing and development plans, newspaper clippings, budgets, and reports. The thousands of videos represented in the MPT finding aid document the breadth and depth of MPT’s broadcast programs, primarily from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s but dating as late as 2013. 


This most recent phase of documenting the MPT collection began in January 2019 in anticipation of last fall’s exhibit opening, Made Possible by Viewers Like You: Maryland Public Television Turns 50. Processing Archivist Jen Wachtel spearheaded the inventory and finding aid project. Although previous archivists documented portions of the collection, Jen started from scratch with the audiovisual inventory so that we would have an up-to-date and accurate record. An important milestone for Special Collections in working with large audiovisual collections, the publication of this finding aid also reflects an enormous effort on the part of many other people from MMC including graduate student assistant Emily Moore, past graduate assistant student Liz Holdzkom, and Curator Laura Schnikter.

Processing archivist Jen Wachtel barcoding MPT videotapes, many of which have been digitized and are linked to the new finding aid

Of course, documenting thousands of videotapes takes time, as does ensuring the accuracy of the metadata (the detailed information in a library catalog record). Proceeding shelf by shelf throughout 2019, the team updated and refined the inventory. Just as they neared the last few stacks of videotapes in early 2020, the University Libraries shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Working remotely with the pre-pandemic inventory, Jen Wachtel and Archival Metadata Librarian Liz Caringola experimented with workflows for reconciling large amounts of data across multiple inventory spreadsheets and linked digitized videos to the corresponding items on the inventory. In the meantime, Jen Wachtel created descriptions about the print and audiovisual series so that public viewers would be able to navigate all components of the collection. For example, although the physical videotapes and film reels are not necessarily shelved by program title, for the sake of discoverability, each item is arranged alphabetically by MPT program title in the finding aid. 

We are so excited to share this public broadcasting collection, made possible by viewers like you! 

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Jen Wachtel is the Mass Media and Culture and Processing Archivist and Special Collections Engagement Specialist at the University of Maryland Special Collections and University Archives. She is also a graduate student in the History and Library Science (HiLS) dual master’s  program and Museum Scholarship and Material Culture graduate certificate program at the University of Maryland, concentrating in modern European history and archives and digital curation.

LGBTQIA Terps Share Their Stories

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Oral history questionnaire for the video project

October 11th marked the 30th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, a yearly event that celebrates individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community who have “come out” to the people in their lives.

Special Collections and University Archives had the pleasure of sponsoring the UMD Pride Alliance event, “What’s Your Story?,” where students, faculty, and staff volunteered to create video testimonies of their own coming out stories. In addition to sharing their own “coming out” stories, interviewees also talked about their experiences at the University of Maryland, and how they’ve been able to develop their own communities on campus.

The video project, a concept created by UMD student Maria Aragon, is an extension of our LGBTQ Oral History Project, which began in April 2018. The project seeks to capture the history of LGBTQIA students, faculty, staff and alumni at the University of Maryland.


 

Post by Ashleigh Coren, Special Collections Librarian for Teaching and Learning

Speak Your Truth

Join us for a very special event as we celebrate Pride Month!

 

Speak Your Truth

The LGBTQ Oral History Project

April 12 & 19
3:00 – 6:00pm
LGBT Equity Center
2218, Marie Mount Hall

RSVP at go.umd.edu/queertruth

Special Collections & University Archives, in collaboration with the LGBT Equity Center, will be conducting short interviews and gathering stories that reflect on and share the experience of being LGBTQ+ on campus or in the community! These will be preserved and added to the University Archives. Interested in sharing yours?

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Transmitter

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This just in: the latest news from Special Collections in Mass Media and Culture! Read the Winter 2013 edition of Transmitter, the official bulletin of the Broadcasting Archives.

Revisit television’s early days with Max Morath… Learn about the family-friendly character of Pick Temple from his correspondence… Suit up in sequins with “Queen of Super CircusMary Hartline… celebrate with the 2012 Giants of Broadcasting… and more!

Stay tuned for more great updates from Transmitter.