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Records of Educational Television at New York University

Call Number



1952-1956, inclusive


New York University. Office of the Chancellor and Executive Vice President


2 Linear Feet 2 linear feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials

Materials are in English


The records document the involvement of two vice-chancellors of New York University, David D. Henry and Carroll Newsom, with the development of educational television, particularly in the New York metropolitan area, in the 1950s.

Historical Note

In 1953 the Federal Communications Commission reserved 242 television channels for the exclusive purpose of education. Thomas E. Dewey, then Governor of New York State, appointed a special commission to determine the practicality of a state-supported educational television network. Public hearings were conducted in early 1953, and the commission issued its report in March of that year. That report opposed the appropriation of state funds for educational television and recommended instead the use of private funds. This recommendation contradicted the wishes of the New York State Board of Regents, which wished to take advantage of the FCC's channel allocation.

David D. Henry, then the Executive Vice-Chancellor of New York University, had appeared before the commission to support the Board of Regents plan. At the behest of the New York State Deputy Commissioner for Education, Henry had convened a temporary committee to present the Board's position to Governor Dewey's commission. That temporary committee--comprised of representatives of several New York-area educational and cultural agencies--later became the Metropolitan New York Educational Agencies Committee on Television. Henry was elected temporary chairman.

Simultaneously, a group of private citizens and civic institutions representing "consumer interests" formed the Metropolitan New York Coordinating Council for Educational Television. The two groups worked closely together to create a structure to own, manage, and operate a non-commercial television station in New York. The Board of Regents approved the groups' application for a television station charter and proposed by-laws in June of 1954. After that point, the Committee was known as the Metropolitan Educational Television Association, Inc. (META). The META Board of Trustees included prominent officials from such institutions as the New York Public Library, the Museum of Modern Art, and Columbia, Fordham, and New York Universities. David Henry was elected chairman.

META faced a large problem at its outset. The channels allocated by the FCC to New York were in the UHF band, while most households were equipped to receive only VHF transmissions and could receive UHF transmissions only with a converter kit (which cost between $50 and $75). META eventually decided to concentrate its efforts on constructing and operating a television production center, which would better enable them to purchase an existing, non-FCC distributed television station with VHF broadcasting capabilities.

By early 1955, META had expanded its staff through the appointment of E.A. Hungerford as Executive Director of the corporation. He played a key role in obtaining funds, searching for the studio space, and generally administering the whole enterprise. Shortly after Hungerford's appointment, David Henry resigned from his position at New York University to take over the presidency of the University of Illinois. Carroll Newsom, former Deputy Commissioner for Education in New York, succeeded him, both as Executive Vice-Chancellor of New York University and Chairman of META. At that time, the Executive Director assumed most of the responsibility for running META, but Newsom was consulted on all major decisions.

By the fall of 1956, META had received a number of grants and had completed plans to lease space in the building owned by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. At that time, Newsom was appointed president of New York University, and he relinquished his post as chairman of META. The chairmanship did not pass to John Ivey, the incoming Vice-Chancellor; the records in this collection do not indicate why or who was appointed instead. Eventually, META was associated with public television station Channel 13.


Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Files are grouped into one series.

Scope and Content Note

These records of the Executive Vice-Chancellor's Office cover the activities of two vice-chancellors, David Henry and Carroll Newsom, and their involvement with educational television between 1952 and 1956. The records comprise a total of approximately 2 linear feet of materials that consist of correspondence, reports, minutes, publications, press releases, newspaper clippings, and accounting statements. Records reflect the interest in and concern for educational television by the two vice-chancellors, both in their official institutional capacities and in their personal capacities as educators. The records also give extensive coverage to the question of educational television legislation, philosophy, and technological developments.

The whole series consists of 54 folders divided by subject. There are 11 folders relating to the Board of Trustees, including an incomplete set of minutes. These document the initial selection of Board members by the Educational Agencies Committee and final appointment to the Board. One folder gives a breakdown of members by educational affiliation, but the bulk of these folders comprises correspondence between the chairman of META (and its predecessor organization) and the Board members. The correspondence is valuable, for it contains detailed reports of the development of META and the problems it confronted. Worthy of note is some correspondence regarding a candidate for membership in April/May 1954. His candidacy was questioned for political reasons, and there was apparent covert pressure from Governor Dewey.

There are three folders relating to the Executive Committee and five folders concerning the Executive Director of META from the years 1955-1956. Minutes contained in the correspondence files of the Executive Committee were removed to the specific folder containing minutes. The correspondence files of this committee cover the Production Cetner and negotiations with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. They also cover an important piece of legislation in New York in 1956 relating to the use of state funds for educational television. The folders entitled "Executive Director" contain correspondence between him and the chairman, and copies of other correspondence sent to the chairman for informational only. Aside from general administrative matters, the correspondence includes sources for funds, possible studio space, UHF/VHF channels, personnel and recruitment, and statements on META's self-image. Of particular concern to the Executive Director was the relationship between state funding and academic freedom.

Folders 32-37 are the general correspondence folders of the Educational Agencies Committee and, after June 1954, META. These five folders document the initial plans for educational television in New York, the establishment of the Educational Agencies Committee, and the later formation of META. All topics are covered: legislation, funding, Board membership, constituent organizations, incorporation and by-laws, UHF/VHF channels, and developments in educational television across the country.

Several committees were formed by META and its predecessor. These included the Finance Committee, the Nominating Committee, the Committee on Personnel, and the Program Advisory Committee. The Educational Agencies Committee established a subcommittee on Organization for which there is a separate folder. The names of the committees are self-explanatory, but since the executive vice-chancellors did not sit in on these committees, their minutes and proceedings are not extensively documented in these records.

There are two folders relating to New York state. These contain correspondence relating primarily to the Temporary State Commission set up by Governor Dewey.

The other major files cover the by-laws of META, its incorporation, fundraising, facilities and equipment, the Production Center, and the UHF/VHF problem.

Access Restrictions

Institutional records of New York University are closed for a period of 20 years from the date of their creation (the date on which each document was written). Board of Trustees records are similarly closed for 35 years from the date of creation. The opening date for files spanning several years will be 20 years from the most recent date. Access will be given to material already 20 years old contained within a collection that is not yet open when such material can be isolated from the rest of the collection.

Materials related to personnel, faculty grievances, job searches and all files with information that falls under the University's Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) policy are permanently restricted.

Use Restrictions

Some materials may be restricted. Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from the:
New York University Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 998-2641
Fax: (212) 995-4225

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form: Identification of item, date (if known); Records of Educational Television at New York University; RG 3.1; box number; folder number; New York University Archives, New York University Libraries.


These records were part of the Central Administration records stored until 1975 in a sub-basement of Vanderbilt Hall and subsequently transferred to the basement of 19 University Place. They were brought to the University Archives in 1981.

Collection processed by

Mary Hedge.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 17:52:49 -0400.
Language: Description is in English.

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from a paper finding aid.


New York University Archives
New York University Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012