Document Type



Fall 1991


Syracuse University Library, kinescope, Omnibus TV series, Golden Age of television, Robert Saudek, Alistair Cooke




American Film Studies | American Popular Culture | Broadcast and Video Studies


"Omnibus" was, to use an expression current during the Golden Age of Television, a "window on the world", through which art, drama, music, dance, history, literature, science and technology, as well as athletics and comedy were brought into American homes by the gentlemanly and articulate host, Alistair Cooke. Between 1952 and 1961, "Omnibus", in seeking new ways to inform and to uplift, expanded the repertoire of television and stimulated the American public's appetite for 'cultural' programming.

In the early 1960s, Syracuse University unexpectedly acquired kinescope recordings of the "Omnibus" television series' first two seasons: 1952-53 and 1953-54. After the Ford Foundation's Fund for Adult Education dissolved in 1961, their staff library was shipped here. As Proftssor Alexander Charters recalls, "The Fund sent a truck to Syracuse with all their files and furniture—even the pencil sharpeners off the walls. On the truck were the kinescopes". Staff from the former Department of Radio-Television at the University's Newhouse School copied the kinescopes onto videotapes, which can be viewed in E. S. Bird Library's Media Services area or borrowed for classroom use. The article includes a Bird Library finding aid for "Omnibus."


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