News Highlights

Newly Digitized KUHT Films Now Online

By Emily Vinson

vintage photo of KUHT Studio

The Libraries recently added 112 films from the KUHT Film and Video Collection to the Audio/Video Repository. The films, dating between 1953 and the 1970s, were digitized with the generous support of a $23,500 CLIR Recordings at Risk grant. These films represent some of KUHT-TV’s earliest productions and include examples of the United States’ nascent educational and public television system.

KUHT’s first aircheck took place on May 25, 1953. The station began broadcasting the following month, making it the United States’ first educational, non-profit television station to go on air. KUHT was a pioneering influence in the field of “tele-education,” creating for-credit college courses. Included in these recently digitized materials are several of Dr. H. Burr Roney’s biology courses, which went on the air in the station’s first year. By 1958, the freshman biology telecourse “had the greatest enrollment of any standard college course given by television at any school in the nation.”1

In the 1960s, KUHT moved away from the production of for-credit college courses but continued to produce elementary education programs in partnership with the Houston Independent School District, as well as content for the enrichment of all viewers. Many KUHT productions documented the activities of the University of Houston and the Gulf Coast region.

Highlights from the recently digitized materials include:

  • Episodes of Target Delinquency, a series produced to inform viewers about the threat of juvenile delinquency with funding from President Kennedy’s Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Offense Control Act of 1961
  • Episodes of The Way It Is, which educated viewers about financial issues facing consumers
  • Live kinescope recordings of meetings of the Houston Independent School District
  • Campus activities and events such as campus scenes from the 1950s, a university promotional film, the UH football team, and members of the UH dance team

1Hawes, W. (1996). Public television: America’s first station: An intimate account. Santa Fe (N.M.): Sunstone Press. p. 42-43.