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UGA's Broadcasting Archives

by Jean Cleveland


From Presidents to Pop: The Walter J. Brown Archives feature everything from presidential interviews to Peabody Award winners and decades of home movies.


UGA’s broadcasting archives are a treasure trove of personal, political and historical memorabilia. Where do you go to research historical events caught on tape?

You could visit one of the nation’s largest broadcasting archives: the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, located at the University of Georgia’s main library. For starters, you’ll find footage of Martin Luther King Jr.’s first speech, CBS’s Abu Ghraib documentary, and Georgia Tech football player Stumpy Thomason and his Coca-Cola-chugging bear, Bruin.

“[Our archives] reflect every topic you can imagine — race relations, the women’s movement, presidential campaigns, children’s television and Web broadcasts,” archives director Ruta Abolins said. “We have it all — just waiting to be studied.”

The Peabody collection, for example, includes the best of radio and television broadcasting, representing “what each broadcaster thought was their best work that year,” Abolins said. Programs portray everything from the Darfur crisis and pollution of Chesapeake Bay to the history of the hotdog and the space race.

Peabody Awards were first presented in 1941 by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, and all entries may be viewed on-site or copied with permission from the copyright-holder. Thanks to a grant from Save America’s Treasures, a public-private partnership between the National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, selected programs soon will be available online.

Documentary filmmakers from around the world search the archives for historic footage of such events as the Nixon/Gannon interviews, lengthy discussions with the former president that cover everything from the Vietnam War to domestic policy.

The archives also contain local and regional films, videotapes and audiotapes of Georgia folklore, the state’s natural resources and television news, to name a few.

The home-movies collection, which spans from the 1920s to the 1970s, “documents buildings, people and places that may no longer exist or have changed dramatically,” Abolins said. Funds from the National Film Preservation Foundation and the Coca-Cola Company are helping preserve and restore these historic reels, which include the footage of Thomason and his pet bear, both drinking Coke.

For more information, access or e-mail Ruta Abolins at


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