PBS affiliate's website now features historical videos

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Muhammad Ali discussing his refusal to fight in Vietnam; African American students arriving at school during Boston’s court-ordered de-segregation; Bill T. Jones performing a monologue and solo dance; Robert McNamara reading from a letter sent by Nikita Khrushchev to President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis — that’s just a taste of the resources available on Open Vault. Launched by the WGBH Media Library and Archives (MLA), the Open Vault (http://openvault.wgbh/org) Web site offers access to select video clips and interview transcripts drawn from WGBH’s award-winning programming created between 1968 and 1993.

Designed to encourage educators and scholars in higher education to incorporate these materials into classroom curricula and outside study, Open Vault includes over 500 streaming video clips and more than 1,000 interviews drawn from:

New Television Workshop, an experimental video art series that supported the creation and broadcast of experimental works by artists from 1974 to 1993;

Say Brother (now Basic Black), an African American public affairs series with programs from 1968 to 1982; and

Ten O’Clock News, a Boston-based nightly news program including stories on the African American community and busing from 1974 through 1991.

In addition, interviews from two WGBH landmark series are available:
War and Peace in the Nuclear Age, originally broadcast in 1989, this 13-part series examined the origins and evolution of nuclear competition between the United States and the Soviet Union; and

Vietnam, A Television History, first presented in 1983, this series analyzed the costs and consequences of a controversial but intriguing war.

Users can search by keyword or browse by topic (Arts; Business; Education; Humanities; Massachusetts; Science and Technology; Social Science) and view data alphabetically by person and by series. Advance search allows for narrowing keyword searches within a single series and/or subject. Resource management tools allow educators (after logging in) to annotate and tag records, create topical lists and send information to students for further study or classroom discussion.

Professors who have used Open Vault in the classroom found that the short duration (one to six minutes) of the clips are well-suited for class discussion as they are focused on one event and can be replayed for in-depth analysis. Video provides a familiar landscape for today’s media-savvy undergraduates while allowing professors to model how video and television can be used as important historical artifacts. Professors cited more dynamic and insightful discussions that occurred in their classes when these primary source materials were used and observed that students who used video clips from Open Vault developed more insightful papers for their assignments.

One early site reviewer commented, "As a professor teaching Humanities courses the very first items to attract my attention were the video clips of Robert McNamara on Khrushchev’s letters to President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Muhammad Ali on his opposition to the Vietnam War and Mamie Till Mobley on her life after the murder of her son. I teach each of these subjects in some depth and was delighted to be able to direct my student’s attention to this site and these important details. It is one thing to talk about these subjects. It is quite another to enable students to hear and see for themselves."

Each record includes a video description, and when applicable, program and series descriptions. Full transcripts and complete longer format interviews are available for purchase for selected entries. For those unsure where to start, "Top Picks" on the Open Vault homepage help get their discovery started, and once in a relevant record, further recommendations appear under the header "People Who Liked This Also Liked." Additional records will be added as licensing rights and funding are obtained.

Support for the Open Vault project was made possible through a generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The IMLS Open Vault project was managed by Media Library Director, Karen Cariani with archivists Karen Colbron and Helen Brady.

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