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Ralph W. Steetle Papers


Ralph W. Steetle Papers
Steetle, Ralph W.
Collection number:
NPBA 93-38
2.50 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:

Ralph Steetle began in educational radio at Louisiana State University where he was its director of broadcasting, and helped build WLSU, one of the first educational FM stations in the south. In the early 1950s, he volunteered to work for the Joint Council on Educational Television (JCET) as an associate director, but became its executive director when Richard Hull left. The Joint Council on Educational Television served as an advocate organization for all the channels. While working for JCET, Steetle worked on the FCC Third Report and Order. This report tentatively set aside 209 frequencies, and became the Sixth Report of 1952, which then allowed 209 communities to speak to the FCC. The collection chronicles the early history of the Joint Committee on Educational Television and Steetle's involvement in this organization.

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Preferred citation:

Ralph W. Steetle Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

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Historical Note

Ralph W. Steetle was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1912. He grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and attended schools there, graduating from Collinwood High School in 1930. Steetle then enrolled in Cleveland State University's cooperative education plan studying electrical engineering. In 1934, he transferred to Louisiana State University, and graduated in 1936 with a major in radio broadcasting. He continued his studies at Louisiana State, receiving a master's degree in linguistics in 1938. As a graduate fellow, Steetle taught broadcasting and produced university programs on local stations and the state network. During this time, he participated in a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship in the Humanities, in which he interacted with various networks and educational institutions in New York City. After completing his studies, Steetle remained at Louisiana State as the first director of broadcasting in the extension division and as instructor of broadcasting in the Department of Speech.

In 1941, Steetle left Louisiana State University for war service leave to the Department of State in Washington, DC. There, he served as officer in charge of exchange programs in the Division of Cultural Relations, helping to set departmental policy governing production activities of emergency war agencies. Then, from 1942 to 1944, he accepted a commission in the United States Navy, participating in the Navy's Fleet Training Command. Upon conclusion of the war in 1945, Steetle returned to Louisiana State University and helped build WLSU, one of the first educational FM stations in the south. At this time, he also became the regional director of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters.

In 1949, Steetle participated in the Rockefeller-sponsored Allerton House conference on the status and future of educational broadcasting. During this conference, he became interested in the possible reservation of television channels for education. The next year, Steetle went to Washington, DC to attend the first strategy planning session of institutions, organizations, agencies and individuals interested in presenting to the Federal Communications Commissionthe case for reserving educational televisionchannels. In 1951, Steetle was appointed executive director of the Joint Committee on Educational Television, having been given leave from Louisiana State University. In this capacity, he worked to preserve television channels for educational uses and assisted groups planning to build educational television stations. He remained executive director of JCET for almost ten years.

Upon leaving JCET, Steetle became an active part of Oregon public television. In 1960, he was appointed Associate Dean and Director of Educational Media for the Oregon State System of Higher Education. There he built the state educational network and served as an administrator for higher education with an emphasis on continuing education.

Ralph W. Steetle retired in 1974. He died on May 25, 2004.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Ralph W. Steetle Papers covers the years 1942 to 1981 with the bulk of material between 1950 and 1958. The collection chronicles the early history of the Joint Committee on Educational Television, as well as Steetle's involvement in this organization. Types of documents include awards, clippings, correspondence, interviews, minutes, newsletters, notes, publications, reports and speeches.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Ralph W. Steetle Papers was donated to the National Public Broadcasting Archives, University of Maryland Libraries by Ralph W. Steetle in October and November of 1992, June of 1993 and January of 1995

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Domenic Morea, February 1994. Revised by Karen E. King, January 1995.

Encoded by:

EAD Markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Scott Prouty, January 2005.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: The Joint Council on Educational Television (JCET), 1950-1973 (2.00 linear feet)

This series contains minutes, reports, speeches, publications and other documents collected by Ralph W. Steetle. Most of the series focuses on JCET's promotion of educational television and its involvement with educational broadcasting legislation.

Subseries 1.1: Minutes, 1950-1960 (0.50 linear foot)

This subseries contains the minutes of JCET's meetings from 1950 to 1960. In 1956, the Joint Committee on Educational Television changed its name to the Joint Council on Educational Television. The minutes outline who attended each meeting and the topics of discussion. This subseries is arranged chronologically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Minutes -- Special Meeting on TV Allocation Hearings, October 16, 1950 [JCET's first meeting], October 16, 1950series 1.1box 1folder 1
Minutes, December 7, 1950series 1.1box 1folder 2
Minutes, April 23, 1951series 1.1box 1folder 3
Minutes, May 13-14, 1951series 1.1box 1folder 4
Minutes, June 4-5, 1951series 1.1box 1folder 5
Minutes, June 20, 1951series 1.1box 1folder 6
Minutes, July 16, 1951series 1.1box 1folder 7
Minutes, September 10, 1951series 1.1box 1folder 8
Minutes, November 3, 1951series 1.1box 1folder 9
Minutes, January 21, 1952series 1.1box 1folder 10
Minutes, March 31, 1952series 1.1box 1folder 11
Minutes, April 22, 1952series 1.1box 1folder 12
Minutes, May 12, 1952series 1.1box 1folder 13
Minutes, June 16, 1952series 1.1box 1folder 14
Minutes, August 2, 1952series 1.1box 1folder 15
Minutes, September 24, 1952series 1.1box 1folder 16
Minutes, November 6, 1952series 1.1box 1folder 17
Minutes, December 4, 1952series 1.1box 1folder 18
Minutes, January 21, 1953series 1.1box 1folder 19
Minutes, March 4, 1953series 1.1box 1folder 20
Minutes, April 13, 1953series 1.1box 1folder 21
Minutes, May 4, 1953series 1.1box 1folder 22
Minutes, June 3, 1953series 1.1box 1folder 23
Minutes, July 15, 1953series 1.1box 1folder 24
Minutes, September 9, 1953series 1.1box 1folder 25
Minutes, October 22, 1953series 1.1box 1folder 26
Minutes, December 16, 1953series 1.1box 1folder 27
Minutes, February 14, 1954series 1.1box 1folder 28
Minutes, April 9, 1954series 1.1box 1folder 29
Minutes, May 14, 1954series 1.1box 1folder 30
Minutes, July 7, 1954series 1.1box 1folder 31
Minutes, August 18, 1954series 1.1box 1folder 32
Minutes, September 29, 1954series 1.1box 1folder 33
Minutes, November 10, 1954series 1.1box 1folder 34
Minutes, January 5, 1955series 1.1box 1folder 35
Minutes, February 16, 1955series 1.1box 1folder 36
Minutes, March 30, 1955series 1.1box 1folder 37
Minutes, June 27, 1955series 1.1box 1folder 38
Minutes, August 31, 1955series 1.1box 1folder 39
Minutes, November 2, 1955series 1.1box 1folder 40
Minutes, January 20, 1956series 1.1box 1folder 41
Minutes, March 28, 1956series 1.1box 1folder 42
Minutes, June 20, 1956series 1.1box 1folder 43
Minutes, July 16, 1956series 1.1box 1folder 44
Minutes, December 14, 1956series 1.1box 1folder 45
Minutes, May 22 and March 18, 1957series 1.1box 1folder 46
Minutes, January 23, 1958series 1.1box 1folder 47
Minutes, April 30, 1958series 1.1box 1folder 48
Minutes, September 12, 1958series 1.1box 1folder 49
Minutes, November 2, 1959series 1.1box 1folder 50
Minutes, February 8, 1960series 1.1box 1folder 51

Subseries 1.2: Legislation: Educational Television, 1953-1960 (4 folders)

This subseries contains information on state and federal legislation on educational television. Legislative initiatives are present in a state-by-state breakdown. The materials are arranged alphabetically by folder heading.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Educational Television Legislation -- Summary, Alabama-New York, 1953series 1.2box 2folder 1
Educational Television Legislation -- Summary, North Carolina-Wyoming, 1953series 1.2box 2folder 2
State Legislative Actions and Educational Television, May 1960series 1.2box 2folder 3
United States Senate, 86th Congress, 1st Session, Report 56,Educational Television, February 26, 1959series 1.2box 2folder 4

Subseries 1.3: Speeches-Articles-Papers, 1951-1973 (6 folders)

This subseries contains various speeches given by Steetle on educational television, mostly given while he was Executive Director of JCET. Topics include: television programming, educational television, adult education via television and television plans in cities. Other materials include articles on similar topics, a statement by Steetle to the United States Senate Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, and a chapter on the formation of JCET. The materials are divided into two different folder headings and then arranged chronologically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Speeches/Articles-Educational Television, 1951-1954series 1.3box 3folder 1
Speeches/Articles-Educational Television, 1955-1956series 1.3box 3folder 2
Speeches/Articles-Educational Television, 1957-1960series 1.3box 3folder 3
Speeches/Articles-Educational Television, 1967, 1973series 1.3box 3folder 4
Speeches, Conferences re: Educational Television, 1954-1967series 1.3box 3folder 5
Steetle, Ralph W. Chapter II: "Formation of the JCET", 1973series 1.3box 3folder 6

Subseries 1.4: Reports, 1954-1959, and undated (0.50 linear foot)

This subseries is a collection of various JCET reports on educational television. A four year progress report on educational television and a brief of the JCET to the Federal Communications Commission are also included. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
"Brief of the JCET" [Before the FCC] -- Parts 1 and 2, undatedseries 1.4box 4folder 1
"Brief of the JCET" [Before the FCC] -- Parts 2 and 4, undatedseries 1.4box 4folder 2
"Brief of the JCET" [Before the FCC] -- Parts 5 and 6, undatedseries 1.4box 4folder 3
"Brief of the JCET" [Before the FCC] -- Part 7, undatedseries 1.4box 4folder 4
"Brief of the JCET" [Before the FCC] -- Part 8a, undatedseries 1.4box 4folder 5
"Brief of the JCET" [Before the FCC] -- Part 8b, undatedseries 1.4box 4folder 6
"Reports: Action for Educational Television", undatedseries 1.4box 4folder 7
"Suggested Readings on Television", January 1954series 1.4box 4folder 8
"Two Years of Progress in Educational Television, September 1954series 1.4box 4folder 9
Miscellaneous, 1954-1958series 1.4box 4folder 10
"Direct Teaching by Television: An Interim Report", July 18, 1956series 1.4box 4folder 11
"Four Years of Progress in Educational Television", December 1956series 1.4box 4folder 12
"Educational Television Today. A Status Report", January 1959series 1.4box 4folder 13

Subseries 1.5: Publications, 1951-1961 (0.50 linear foot)

This subseries contains various educational television publications including JCET Factsheets. The materials are arranged in chronological order.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Information Papers, 1951series 1.5box 5folder 1
Television Digest, March 24, 1951series 1.5box 5folder 2
Television Digest -- "The Final Television Allocation Report", April 14, 1952series 1.5box 5folder 3
Educational Television Resources, 1952series 1.5box 5folder 4
Educational Television Resources, 1952series 1.5box 5folder 5
Educational Television: Factsheet and Box Score, December 1953 - December 1958 [incomplete]series 1.5box 5folder 6
Educational Television: Factsheet and Box Score, December 1953 - December 1958 [incomplete]series 1.5box 5folder 7
Educational Television: Factsheet and Box Score, December 1953 - December 1958 [incomplete]series 1.5box 5folder 8
Educational Television: Factsheet and Box Score, December 1953 - December 1958 [incomplete]series 1.5box 5folder 9
Educational Television: Factsheet and Box Score -- The 1959 Educational Television Directory, January 1959series 1.5box 5folder 10
Educational Television: Factsheet and Box Score, February 1959 - May 1960 [incomplete]series 1.5box 5folder 11
Educational Television: Factsheet and Box Score, February 1959 - May 1960 [incomplete]series 1.5box 5folder 12
"Programs Presented...", August 1954series 1.5box 5folder 13
Television in Our Schools, August 1955series 1.5box 5folder 14
"Checklist for Planning Educational Television Stations", March 1959series 1.5box 5folder 15
Educational Television Directory, January 1960series 1.5box 5folder 16
Current Developments in Educational Television, January 1961series 1.5box 5folder 17

Series 2: Broadcasting Miscellaneous, 1942-1981 (0.50 linear feet)

This series contains miscellaneous materials concerning public broadcasting and Ralph Steetle. Materials include information about Oregon Public Broadcasting, an honorary degree given to Steetle from Syracuse University, as well as an oral history of Steetle conducted by James Robertson in 1981. Memoranda relating to Steetle's wartime service are also included in this series. The series is arranged chronologically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
The Journal of the AERT, November 1954 series 2box 6folder 1
Honorary Degree, Syracuse University, 1960 series 2box 6folder 2
News Release, The Fund for Adult Education, April 12, 1962 series 2box 6folder 3
Window [Reports], 1963-1964 series 2box 6folder 4
Window [Reports], 1963-1964 series 2box 6folder 5
Oregon Public Broadcasting, 1962-1973 series 2box 6folder 6
Robertson Interview with Steetle, May 8, 1981 series 2box 6folder 7
Department of State - Memoranda, 1942-1944 series 2box 6folder 8

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