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Founded in 1976, the Media Access and Preservation Center has a mission to acquire, organize, preserve and provide access to the WGBH Educational Foundation's production assets and historical records, whether paper-based, magnetic or digital in nature. The Archives holds extensive footage from WGBH news programming, including nearly 10,000 tapes from The Ten O'Clock News library, and from its predecessor, Evening Compass.

A grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has allowed the Archives to preserve and digitize a portion of its Ten O'Clock News collection. The 523 tapes included in this project focus on coverage of the local and national African American community and related civil rights issues from 1974 to 1991. The Archives has been making a concerted effort to identify and preserve materials in the WGBH collection that document the local and national African American community. The justification for this focus is based on the dearth of historical moving image collections by, for, and about the African American community in Boston. Television news collections, such as The Ten O'Clock News, are important because they serve as primary source material for the study of regional history, and they document local attitudes on national and international news stories. The Ten O'Clock News project focuses on significant events, and coverage of important personalities and changing attitudes on important issues in our society.

Evening Compass programs and Ten O'Clock News library tapes were chosen for inclusion in The Ten O'Clock News project. The news stories on the tapes cover a wide variety of topics, including local and national politics, education, health care, racism, housing, economics, youth issues, the arts, and African American identity. It is estimated that the project has preserved about 5% of the entire Ten O'Clock News collection.

Approximately 100 tapes included in the project focus on the events surrounding the desegregation of Boston's public schools starting in 1974. Highlights of the collection include the following:
  • Coverage of school desegregation in Boston, and efforts to improve education in the Boston Public schools during the 1980s.

  • Coverage of Mel King's 1983 mayoral campaign, including footage of Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young visiting Boston to campaign for King, who was the first African American to run for mayor of the city. His campaign is credited with healing some of the racial wounds left over from Boston's busing crisis.

  • Interviews and news stories about notable national and international African American political figures, artists, writers and activists including Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, Julian Bond, Alex Haley, Nelson Mandela, Elma Lewis, Muriel Snowden, Shirley Caesar, Douglas Wilder, Mamie Till Mobley, and Edward Brooke.

  • Coverage of the growing movement against apartheid. News footage includes demonstrations at local universities and interviews with black South African leaders such as Allan Boesak and Zwelakhe Sisulu.

  • Coverage of Jesse Jackson's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988.

  • Coverage of race relations in Boston, including the Roxbury secession initiative; efforts to desegregate Carson Beach in South Boston; and instances of discrimination in many areas of society.

These subjects and others in this collection provide a valuable record of the day-to-day events that shaped the history of Boston and its African American community.

The Ten O'Clock News project allows researchers, students and others interested in local history to explore these news stories through a Web-based guide to the collection. A portion of the streaming video clips on the Web site are enhanced with universal access tools to provide access for people who are blind or visually impaired and people who are deaf or hearing-impaired. The technical enhancements used in this Web access model could be adopted by other archives, museums and libraries interested in broadening access to their Web sites. We believe that The Ten O'Clock News project is the first of its kind to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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The Ten O'Clock News Project is a production of the WGBH Archives.
©2003 WGBH Educational Foundation.