Discovering What is Hidden in the WCVB Collection

Outside the lupin was blooming, and inside NHF the inventory for the WCVB Collection, the subject of our new CLIR (Council on Library and Information Resources) grant, grew to more than 4,700 items, up from early estimations of about 2,400 when the grant was written.
During the inventory each item of this new acquisition was visually inspected and initial notes were made, after reading the can notes or box labels, about the content of each program, and fragility of the program’s tape or film.

Here is what we found among the reels and boxes.

Almost half the collection is a local news series titled Chronicles. These programs covered every topic of concern and spans the years 1982 through 1995 in a version tagged “aircheck.” These are the tapes made during broadcast, rather than prepared and edited versions of programming. In addition there are dozens of news specials and topical programs on political issues of both local and national concern, like elections, sexual orientation, or civil rights.


The next largest selection is Good Day, a morning show that featured celebrity guests and audience participation. The NHF has just under 300 episodes spread across the decade of 1981 to 1991.

Children’s programming is also a large part of the titles. This subcategory includes Jabberwocky with more than 130 items, and Captain Bob with about 175 items.

Miller’s Court, an early courtroom drama with well-known lawyers arguing the cases before an instructive judge named Arthur Miller, includes dozens of legal topics that range from death penalty issues to smoking in the work place.

There are also serials of special interest and ethnic focus. Aqui is one centered on concerns of the Latino community, for example. There is a series of Candlepin Bowling, and the brainteaser contest, High Q.

There is extensive programming for July 4th celebrations in Boston, and a 12-part series titled This Was America, The Boston Pops, and Ballet.
There are some puzzles, too. Like the programming notes for a concert that seem to include handwritten notes for an Arlo Guthrie song written exclusively as a love- letter to Massachusetts.

And an-almost complete collection of King Features Time Capsules videotapes 2 through 75 that provide topical histories of the world from an American perspective. These were not in the inventory that came with the collection, but were obviously heavily used in the newsroom. The check-out cards inside the cases are full of reporters’ and editors’ names who requested use of them. Topics include periods of history like “Cuba and the Cuban Missile Crisis” and “Eisenhower and Kennedy at the White House” and “Forming the U.N.” Who supplied these and how were they used?


What’s next? Now the serious work of cataloguing will begin. The collection needs to be sorted and entered into the NHF database. The work of creating a complete inventory list was just a very small beginning. —Shannon E. Martin, intern