Collection Summary

The National Educational Television (NET) Collection consists of more than 10,000 television programs from non-commercial TV stations and producers from 1952-1972 on public affairs, social issues, arts, culture, the humanities, science, and education. The collection includes public affairs documentaries and discussions covering the black freedom struggle, the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and issues such as poverty, student activism, radicalism, privacy, the environment, the elderly, and welfare. There is also a wide range of arts, cultural, and science programming visually documenting opinions and works of major authors, artists, musicians, filmmakers, scientists, and intellectuals. The programs in this collection were created for television broadcast, as well as classroom and adult educational uses. Digitization of the NET collection is ongoing, and digitized programs are periodically added to the Online Reading Room. Many of the catalog records include transcriptions from original programming notes, press releases, and distribution memoranda that were copied onto microfiche in the 1980s by PBS.

Collection Background

The Educational Television and Radio Center, which later became the National Educational Television network, was founded in 1952 by the Fund for Adult Education, an organization created by the Ford Foundation to foster educational initiatives for citizens beyond the classroom. The Center’s goal was to help newly formed educational television stations share content across the country. As the network of educational television stations grew, and American audiences’ interest in this type of programming increased, NET began producing as well as distributing shows produced by local stations. Following the signing of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 and the subsequent creation of PBS, NET in 1970 began a two-year process of merging with New York’s WDNT, to form WNET, which remains today as New York City’s public television station. This catalog contains a few titles broadcast after the merger that were produced under the auspices of NET, but aired by PBS.

NET programs have resided in numerous archives and repositories for years. Until now, there has not been a central place for researchers to search these descriptions and holdings. We are grateful to the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) for providing funds for cataloging this collection, and to WNET and PBS for allowing us to make digitized copies of programs in the Library of Congress collection available here.

Each catalog record identifies holdings information from various institutions that will be updated periodically. If you are interested in viewing titles held by the Library of Congress that have not been digitized, please contact the Library’s Moving Image Research Center (mpref@loc.gov) with a reference to the MAVIS number in your request.