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Thad Holt Papers


Thad Holt Papers
Holt, Thad
Collection number:
LAB 96-61
10.50 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
Mass Media and Culture
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

Thad Holt's broadcasting career centered in Alabama and in the fields of educational television, cable television and satellite broadcasting. Notable achievements include starting WAPI, the first radio station in Alabama and becoming an early proponent of using satellites for transmission of educational programs. The collection documents Thad Holt's career in Alabama broadcasting from 1930 to 1980 and includes business records, business and personal correspondence, financial records and other documents.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


The collection is open for research use.

Preferred citation:

Thad Holt Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials page for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Thad Holt spent a lifetime in the field of broadcasting. Early in his career Holt started WAPI, the first radio station in Alabama. With the advent of FM radio, he expanded his operations to include FM broadcasts -- the first in Alabama to do so. The arrival of television in the late forties led Holt to develop his broadcasting activities.

He became a leader in educational television, and later fought for the rights of cable companies to establish operations in the area. Holt quickly perceived the application of satellites for long distance communication -- non-military as well as military -- and became an early proponent of using satellites for transmission of educational programs.

Holt's lifetime accomplishments, his connections with important figures of the early 20th century--such as Harry Hopkins--and others in the field of broadcasting--particularly Edward R. Murrow--forms an important chapter in American broadcasting.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Thad Holt Collection spans from 1930 to 1980, and includes business records, business and personal correspondence, financial records and other documents relating to Mr. Holt's involvement with WAPI, WAPI-FM, the TeleVision Corporation, educational television, Alabama Educational Television, community antenna television, and materials concerning satellite and video communications that span the years from approximately 1936 to 1982.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Samuel C.O. Holt, son of Thad Holt, donated the Thad Holt papers to the Library of American Broadcasting in April and June of 1996.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Jonathan Powell, October 1996.

Processing note:

Documents were placed in acid-free folders which were then put into acid-free boxes. Some newsclippings in bad shape were copied onto acid-free paper.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Karen E. King, May 2009.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: WAPI Radio Materials, 1936-1954 (1.50 linear feet)

This series contains documents relating to radio station WAPI, and includes original leases, contracts, as well as detailed applications for radio licensing to the FCC. The spread of FM radio and the rise of television in the latter 1940s is also evidenced by documents in this series.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
WAPI -- Bid, 1930, 1936, 1972 series 1box 1folder 1
WAPI -- Original Lease, 1936 series 1box 1folder 2
WAPI -- Startup of WAPI -- some NBC and CBS Affiliation Papers (fragile documents), 1936 series 1box 1folder 3
WAPI -- Startup of WAPI -- some NBC and CBS Affiliation Papers (fragile documents), 1936 series 1box 1folder 4
WAPI -- FCC Applications and Reports -- Correspondence, 1937-1938 series 1box 1folder 5
WAPI -- FCC Applications and Reports, 1939-1940 series 1box 2folder 1
WAPI -- New Lease on Equipment, 1941 series 1box 2folder 2
WAPI -- Contracts, 1948-1949 series 1box 2folder 3
WAPI -- New Lease, Negotiations, and Results, 1949 series 1box 2folder 4
WAPI -- Time & Production Cost Swap Arrangement with Colleges, 1949,1953 series 1box 2folder 5
WAPI -- Publicity Materials, 1930s series 1box 3folder 1
WAPI -- Application with Exhibits for Transfer of License of Station WAPI, May 4, 1937 series 1box 3folder 2
WAPI -- Application with Exhibits for Transfer of License of Station, May 10, 1937 series 1box 3folder 3
WAPI -- Application with Exhibits for Transfer of License of Station, Janurary 14, 1941 series 1box 3folder 4
WAPI -- FM Application-Correspondence -- Procurement, 1943-1945 series 1box 3folder 5
Voice of Alabama to TeleVision Corporation -- Board of Directors Minutes, 1936-1953 series 1box 3folder 6
Voice of Alabama to TeleVision Corporation -- Stockholder Minutes, 1947 series 1box 3folder 7
WAPI -- Management Contract, 1937,1941 series 1box 3folder 8
WAPI -- Financial, 1940,1947,1952 series 1box 3folder 9
WAPI WAPI: Sale of WAPI to Birmingham News -- Sale of WAPI to Birmingham News, 1953-1954 series 1box 3folder 10

Series 2: Radio and Television, 1954-1980 (2.50 linear feet)

Holt's long interest in Community Antenna TeleVision (CATV) is documented by the many proposals made in favor of CATV to various communities as early as 1954 and going into the early 1970s. Holt supported his position with copies of articles from various newspapers, which are part of the collection. Also included are records of the TeleVision Corporation from 1961 to 1971, one of Holt's commercial broadcasting ventures.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
WBHM -- Outline of Plan for WBHM -- Dunbar Correspondence, 1971-1975 series 2box 4folder 1
WBHM -- Startup of WBHM, 1974-1976 series 2box 4folder 2
TeleVision Communication -- Corporate Records, Minutes, Bylaws, 1961, 1964-1965 series 2box 4folder 3
TeleVision Communication Corporation, 1964-166 series 2box 4folder 4
TeleVision Communication Corporation -- Bessamer Bid, 1970-1971 series 2box 4folder 5
TeleVision Communication Corporation -- Incorporation Documents, Minutes, 1961-1962 series 2box 5folder 1
TeleVision Communication Corporation -- Corporation Permits, Tax Troubles, 1962-1971 series 2box 5folder 2
TeleVision Communication Corporation -- Status Reports, Projections, Franchise Proposals, 1965, 1971 series 2box 5folder 3
TeleVision Communication Corporation -- Tax Troubles, IRS records, 1966-1969 series 2box 5folder 4
TeleVision Communication Corporation -- First National Bank Record, 1961-1969 series 2box 5folder 5
TeleVision Communication Corporation -- Misc. Correspondence,other Misc., n.d. series 2box 5folder 6
CATV -- General Documents, Vestavia Proposal, 1961,1965-1967 series 2box 5folder 7
Carter Publications Inc. -- Legal Documents, 1965-1966 series 2box 5folder 8
CPB -- Soliciting Consulants -- Related Correspondence, 1975-1977 series 2box 5folder 9
CATV -- Proposals,Drafts, Proposals to Assorted Cities, 1954, 1965-1967 series 2box 6folder 1
CATV -- Articles,Brochrues, Legal Documents, 1964-1965 series 2box 6folder 2
CATV -- Franchise Proposal Variations, 1965, 1970 series 2box 6folder 3
CATV -- Application Birmingham, Exhibits, Part 1, 1972 series 2box 6folder 4
CATV -- Application Birmingham, Exhibits, Part 2, 1972 series 2box 6folder 5
CATV -- Clippings, n.d. series 2box 6folder 6
Television & Radio -- Written Testimony of Columbia Btoadcasting, Inc., 1970 series 2box 7folder 1
Television & Radio -- Ford Foundation -- Passage of Corporation for Public Broadcasting Bill, 1971-1972 series 2box 7folder 2
Television & Radio -- COMSAT -- Presentations, Drafts, 1975 series 2box 7folder 3
Television & Radio -- Cowles Contract, Proposals, n.d. series 2box 7folder 4
Television & Radio -- Satellite Earth Station Symposium '80, 1980 series 2box 7folder 5
Television & Radio -- Satellite Earth Station Symposium '80, 1980 series 2box 7folder 6
Corporate Stamp -- TeleVision Corporation, n.d. series 2box 13folder 1

Series 3: Educational Television, 1953-1974 (1.00 linear feet)

Materials in this series treat the history of educational television (ETV), from 1953 to 1974; included are progress reports, budgets, and correspondence. The efforts of Holt and others to establish Alabama Educational Television (AETV) starting in 1953-54, can be traced from newspaper clippings in the collection. "Operation New Birmingham," one of several ambitious projects, is also documented in this series.

In 1974 the FCC revoked AETV's operating license, sparking a national debate on the roles of government and the media. Holt, though no longer directly involved, tracked events in the unfolding AETV drama, and this series contains his records of the controversy.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
ETV/Educational Television -- History, 1953-1974 series 3box 8folder 1
ETV/Educational Television -- Progress Reports, Budget, 1953-1955 series 3box 8folder 2
ETV/Educational Television -- Correspondence, Brochures, 1965 series 3box 8folder 3
ETV/Educational Television -- Clippings, n.d. series 3box 8folder 4
AETV/Alabama Educational Television -- History, 1953-1954 series 3box 8folder 5
AETV/Alabama Educational Television -- Blueprints, 1953 series 3box 8folder 6
AETV/Alabama Educational Television -- Legal Foundation, Budgets, Studies, Proposals, 1950, 1952-1955, 1973 series 3box 8folder 7
AETV/Alabama Educational Television -- "Operation New Birmingham" -- Clippings, 1953, 1974-1975 series 3box 9folder 1
AETV/Alabama Educational Television -- Clippings, 1953, 1974-1975 series 3box 9folder 2
AETV/Alabama Educational Television -- The ETV Commision, n.d. series 3box 9folder 3

Series 4: Holt Biographical Material, 1922-1984 (5.50 linear feet)

Articles in this series include those relating to syndicated columnist Barney Oldfield, the Democratic and Republican national conventions of 1956, and Holt's contributions to the Murrow Symposia, which he helped organize in memory of his friend Edward R. Murrow.

The oversize boxes in Series 4 (12 and 14) are not processed.

Pamphlets and books from the Thad Holt Collection are stored with other, similar materials in the Library of American Broadcasting. Please see the "Separated Materials" section of this finding aid for more a complete listing.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / FrameItem
Convention Materials, 1956 series 4box 10folder 1
Oldfield Materials, Arts Hall of Fame, 1980-1981 series 4box 10folder 2
"Like it Was", 1980 series 4box 10folder 3
Alabama Broadcasters Association Directory, 1980 series 4box 10folder 4
"Watch the television guide to the 1956 conventions, the campaign and the election", 1956 series 4box 10folder 5
"How Radio Can Serve Alabama", 1953 series 4box 10folder 6
"The Television Corporation", 1965 series 4box 10folder 7
Murrow Symposia, Presentation Drafts, Correspondence, 1978-1980 series 4box 11folder 1
Murrow Symposia, Brochures, Correspondence, 1978-1981 series 4box 11folder 2
Radio, Newspaper, Clippings; Festival Kings, Murrow, WAPI, ETV, Radio, 1948-1977 series 4box 11folder 3
Personal, 1942-1981 series 4box 11folder 4
Role, Importance of Public Television, Clippings, 1967-1980 series 4box 11folder 5
Biographical materials series 4box 12folder 1
Scrapbook series 4box 14folder 1
CBS News Reference Guides, 1956 series 4box 15folder 1
1956 Democratic National Convention, August 13, 1956 series 4box 15folder 1item 1.0
1956 Republican National Convention, August 20, 1956 series 4box 15folder 1item 2.0

Related Material

The papers of Holt's son Samuel C. O. Holt are also located in the National Public Broadcasting Archives.

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Separated Material

Books, Pamphlets, Brochures, and Reports separated from Series 4: Holt Biographical Materials