By Sasha Urban (Variety)
The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded the Television Academy Foundation a $350,000 grant for the preservation of its online archives documenting the history of television.
Founded in 1997, the archive now known as The Interviews: An Oral History of Television is among the world’s largest online archives of its kind and includes thousands of hours of interviews with more than 900 legends.
The grant is funded in part by the NEH’s “A More Perfect Union” initiative, which is designed to honor the role of the humanities in U.S. history and invest in the preservation of projects like The Interviews. Out of 205 eligible applicants, 36 were chosen.
“We are deeply honored by this NEH recognition and grateful for this very special grant,” said Television Academy Foundation chair Cris Abrego. “As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of this unique collection, we are committed to further represent all of the diverse talent that’s influencing the course of America’s favorite pastime.”
Interviews in the collection include stories from Whoopi Goldberg, Walter Cronkite, RuPaul, Betty White, Carol Burnett, Margaret Cho, Barbara Walters, to name a few. The collection is searchable online and free to access.
In 2019, the archives were “in a crisis of obsolescence,” the Foundation said, which led to the creation of the Interviews Preservation. A plan for the archives to be maintained was established with the help of the Academy and additional donors, and the USC Digital Repository aided in the process to keep the interviews in perfect condition.
“This NEH grant is vital to helping us meet our goal of financing the first three years of digitization and preservation,” said Chair of The Interviews committee Jonathan Murray. “It sets the stage for our next wave of fundraising as we continue to enthusiastically share this incredible collection about the art of American television with the world, free of charge!”
The Television Academy Foundation is currently working to secure additional funding for the archives’ preservation over the next 100 years, in addition to making the Interviews more accessible, with closed captioning and subtitles. The Interviews are available at TelevisionAcademy.com/Interviews.