Multimedia Moment: American Archive of Public Broadcasting

This post was written by Tom Bober, the Library of Congress 2015-16 Audio-Visual Teacher in Residence. Over the course of his year at Teacher in Residence, Tom will be writing regular posts exploring different aspects of audio-visual materials in the Library’s collection and their use in the classroom.

Imagine television and radio broadcasts from the last 70 years covering topics from economics to social issues, from science to politics. You’ll find that resource in the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB), a collaborative effort between the Library of Congress, WGBH Boston and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The AAPB, a digitized collection of over 11,000 audiovisual items from public media stations from across the country, includes local news, public affairs, and local history productions, as well as programs concerning music, art, and literature, just to name some of its holdings. Digitized materials continue to be added.

Screen Capture from Kennedy/Nixon Debate

Teachers may explore the curated exhibits within the site. The exhibit Voices of Democracy: Public Media and Presidential Elections contains coverage of presidential elections and candidates from as early as 1961 to 2008. The program 50th Anniversary of Kennedy/Nixon Debates, for example, consists of a panel of reporters and political figures closely connected to the debates reflecting on the event as well as a rebroadcast of part of the debate. In the exhibit Voices from the Southern Civil Rights Movement, among many historic recordings is an audio interview with Rosa Parks created in April 1956, in which she speaks about her December 1955 refusal to give up her seat on a bus and the boycott that followed.

Educators may also browse the collection, searching categories of content held within the site such as Science and Social Issues or formats such as Call-in and Documentary.

Rosa Parks. [Reflections on her arrest for refusing to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger, December 1, 1955], ca. 1956.

Rosa Parks. [Reflections on her arrest for refusing to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger, December 1, 1955], ca. 1956.

When using audiovisual material with students, teachers may consider:

  • selecting questions from the Teacher’s Guides for Motion Pictures or Sound Recordings to help students engage with the audiovisual clip.
  • using a portion of the entire clip, focusing students’ attention on a particular moment in the program.
  • playing the audiovisual file multiple times for students to study different aspects of the source.
  • the purpose and audience for the broadcast. Does the city or state where it was created hold significance in an analysis of the piece?
  • pairing the clip with other types of media such as images or letters to examine different aspects from the same person or event.

What video or film recording have you found in the AAPB collection that you can use with students?

2 Comments

  1. Erika Mittag
    March 3, 2016 at 11:37 am

    This is truly awesome! I only wish teachers had more time to peruse and be creative with these resources.

  2. Thomas Holbrook
    March 3, 2016 at 11:45 am

    This seems wonderful–I hope I have the time to access it now and then.

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