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Mr. Wizard Papers

Donor:
Mr. Wizard Studios (Firm)  Search this
Mr. Wizard Studios (Firm)  Search this
Creator:
Herbert, Don (Donald Jeffry), 1917-2007  Search this
Names:
Mr. Wizard  Search this
Extent:
26 Cubic feet (57 boxes, 1 oversize folder)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Television programs
Storyboards
Photographs
Research
Books
Scripts (documents)
Speeches
Contracts
Videocassettes
Dvds
Slides (photographs)
Notes
Awards
Scrapbooks
Motion pictures (visual works)
Date:
1906-2008
bulk 1951-1995
Summary:
The collection documents, through printed materials, photographs, audio and moving image, Don Herbert's career as a science educator under the persona of "Mr. Wizard" from 1951 until the 1990s.
Scope and Contents:
The collection documents the career of science educator Don Herbert, who created and hosted child-oriented television programs on science subjects in which he assumed the persona of Mr. Wizard. In addition to a documentation about his early personal life, the collection also documents his Watch Mr. Wizard television show as well as his other television, radio, and educational activities.

The collection includes correspondence, contracts, writings, publications, newspaper clippings, speeches; awards, photographs; episode files relating to Watch Mr. Wizard and other educational programming, moving image, and audio recordings.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into eight series.

Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1906-2007

Series 2: Awards, 1948-2000

Series 3: Speeches, 1966-1994

Series 4: Publications/Writings, 1966-2004

Series 5: Newspaper Articles, 1944-2007

Series 6: Educational Programs/Projects, 1951-2008

Subseries 6.1: It's a Curious Thing, 1951, 1954

Subseries 6.2: Watch Mr. Wizard, 1954-1989

Subseries 6.3: General Electric Theater, 1956-1958

Subseries 6.4: Instructor Magazine, 1964-1965

Subseries 6.5: Experiment, 1963-2003

Subseries 6.6: Silence of Science, 1966

Subseries 6.7: CBS National Science Test, 1967

Subseries 6.8: General Electric, 1974-1976

Subseries 6.9: Mr. Wizard Collection...Fun Things, circa 1975

Subseries 6.10: Mr. Wizard Close-up, 1968, 1975

Subseries 6.11: Challenge with Mr. Wizard, 1976

Subseries 6.12: Science Twenty with Mr. Wizard, 1969-1974

Subseries 6.13: How About..., 1977-1989

Subseries 6.14: Mr. Wizard's Whadda Ya Know Show, circa 1981

Subseries 6.15: Correspondent Science News, circa 1987

Subseries 6.16: Just a Minute from Wizard, 1988

Subseries 6.17: Teacher to Teacher, 1993-2004

Subseries 6.18: Mr. Wizard's World, 1971-2004

Subseries 6.19: Mr. Wizard's Studio, 1990-1992

Subseries 6.20: Mr. Wizard Institute, undated

Subseries 6.21: Fan Mail, 1952-2007

Series 7: Photographs, 1951-2001

Series 8: Audio Visual Materials, 1951-2004

Subseries 8.1: Supplemental Documentation, 1972-2004

Subseries 8.2: Moving Image, 1951-2004

Subseries 8.3: Audio, 1966, 1977
Biographical / Historical:
Donald Herbert Kemske (1917-2007) was the creator and host of Watch Mr. Wizard (1951–1965), Mr. Wizard (1971–1972), Mr. Wizard's World (1983–1990), and other educational television programs for children devoted to science and technology. He also produced many short video programs about science and authored several popular books about science for children. So important was Mr. Wizard to scientific education on television that author Marcel LaFollette featured his photo on the cover of her book, Science on American Television: A History, University of Chicago Press, 2013.

Don Herbert was born Donald Herbert Kemske in Waconia, Minnesota on July 10, 1917. He was one of three children (sisters Betty and Dorothy) born to Herbert Kemske and Lydia Kemske (nee Poeppel). He officially changed his name in 1940 to Donald Jeffry Herbert. Herbert graduated from LaCrosse State Normal College in 1940 with a Bachelor of Science degree. In 1942, Herbert volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Corps and in 1943 began training as an aviation cadet and then pilot. During World War II, Herbert served in the 461 Bomb Group and 767 Bomb Squadron in Europe. He was discharged from the military service on July 29, 1945 as a captain and had earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. After the war, Herbert worked at a radio station in Chicago and acted in children's programs, including It's Your Life (1949). During this time Herbert developed the idea of Mr. Wizard. In 1939, Herbert married Maraleita Dutton (1923-1995) and the couple adopted three children: Jeffrey (1954); Jay (1955); and Jill (1960). He later divorced Maraleita Dutton and married Norma Nix Kasell (1918-2010) in 1972.

Premiering on March 3, 1951 on WNBQ, a 14-station network in Chicago, Herbert's Watch Mr. Wizard differed considerably from earlier attempts at scientific education on television. Those shows were either very technical, like the Johns Hopkins Science Review, or used magic tricks and comedy to hold viewers' attention, like ABC's Science Circus and CBS' Mr. I. Magination. From the beginning, Herbert planned a serious, informative show for children, rather than their parents. Even though he had only minimal scientific training in college—he had been an English major at La Crosse State Normal College in Wisconsin—in his persona as Mr. Wizard, Herbert conveyed a sense of authority and expertise.

The show, broadcast live, was carefully scripted, meticulously researched, and smooth-flowing. Each week, Mr. Wizard—described by LaFollette as a "nonthreatening, easygoing, intelligent man with a smiling face" in shirtsleeves and tie (and the occasional lab coat)—carefully guided his youthful assistants through simple experiments. Using ordinary household items such as eggs, balloons, milk bottles, coffee cans, and knitting needles, Herbert explained larger scientific principles like gravity, magnetism, and oxidation. Although seemingly complex, the experiments actually were simple enough to be re-created by his young viewers in the classroom or at home.

Herbert's winning combination of personality, grasp of science, and use of ordinary objects made Mr. Wizard a hit with viewers and made a lasting impression on science education in America. As LaFollette writes, the program "enjoyed consistent praise, awards, and high ratings throughout its history. At its peak, Watch Mr. Wizard drew audiences in the millions, but its impact was far wider. By 1956, it had prompted the establishment of more than five thousand Mr. Wizard science clubs, with an estimated membership greater than one hundred thousand." After over 500 shows over fourteen and a half years, NBC abruptly canceled Watch Mr. Wizard in 1965. The last program under contract with NBC aired on June 27, 1965.

From 1954 to 1962, Herbert, appearing as Mr. Wizard, delivered "Progress Reports" during commercial breaks of the General Electric Theater. As with most commercially-sponsored shows, the progress being reported on was almost exclusively made by General Electric. Following the cancellation of Watch Mr. Wizard, he continued to use his Mr. Wizard persona in science education. In 1965-1966, he produced an eight-film-series, Experiment: The Story of a Scientific Search, which was broadcast on public television, and a series of twenty-minute films, Science Twenty, designed to complement the current science curriculum in the classroom (circa 1970).

Herbert's television show was briefly revived in 1971-1972 as Mr. Wizard, in response to protests over the cartoons and commercials that flooded children's Saturday morning prime viewing time, but it did not receive enough network support. Herbert appeared in commercials for several companies during the 1970s and briefly lobbied Congress on behalf of General Electric in 1975. In the early 1970s, Herbert also produced Mr. Wizard Close-Ups, thirty second spots that aired on NBC in the Saturday morning slot. In the late 1970s, he began collaborating with the National Science Foundation to create a series of short news briefs for television called How About…How About was an adult-oriented series of 80-second reports highlighting advances in science and technology. The reports were designed for insertion into existing commercial television programs.

In the early 1980s, Herbert returned to television in Mr. Wizard's World, a faster-paced version of the original show that ran on the Nickelodeon network from 1983-1990. After its cancellation, reruns ran until at least 2000. During this time Herbert made numerous appearances on television news and talk shows, particularly the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, where he was a popular guest. In the 1990s, Herbert produced Teacher to Teacher with Mr. Wizard, a video series that debuted on September 27, 1994 on the Nickelodeon cable channel. The innovative educational series provided a candid, close-up and in-depth visit to classrooms of outstanding teachers using hands-on, inquiry-based techniques.

Herbert also published several books, including Mr. Wizard's Science Secrets (1952); Mr. Wizard's Experiments for Young Scientists (1959); Mr. Wizard's 400 Experiments in Science (1968); and Mr. Wizard's Supermarket Science (1980). Additionally, he designed science kits involving chemistry, crystal growing, ecology, and electronics, which were marketed by Owens-Illinois in the 1960s.

Herbert's hands-on techniques in demonstrating scientific concepts to children were the inspiration for numerous educators who followed his lead. As popular TV science educator Bill Nye wrote in a special to the Los Angeles Times, his "techniques and performances helped create the United States' first generation of homegrown rocket scientists just in time to respond to Sputnik. He sent us to the moon. He changed the world."

Don Herbert died in 2007, shortly before his 90th birthday. Soon after, the U.S. House of Representatives marked his passing: "Resolved, that the House of Representatives (1) expresses its appreciation for the profound public service and educational contributions of Don Jeffry Herbert, (2) recognizes the profound public impact of higher educational institutions that train teachers, (3) encourages students to honor the heritage of Don Herbert by exploring our world through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields; and, (4) extends its condolences to the family of Don Herbert and thanks them for their strong familial support of him."

Sources

LaFollette, Marcel. Science on American Television: A History, University of Chicago Press, 2013.

Nye, Bill. "Teaching Science with a Big `Poof!' Los Angeles Times, June 15, 2007.
Related Materials:
Materials at Other Organizations

UCLA Film and Television Archives

The collection consists of 770 moving image items in several formats: 16mm kinescopes; 1" videotapes; 2" videotapes; ¾" videotapes; and DVDs. The collection documents Don Herbert's career as Mr. Wizard, from the early 1950's to the mid 1990's and includes such programs as Watch Mr. Wizard, Mr. Wizard's World, and How About...
Separated Materials:
Materials at the National Museum of American History

Related materials were donated to the Division of Medicine and Science. See accession 2014.0141.

2014.0141.01, Mr. Wizard's Experiments in Ecology, Series One: Microbes (science kit)

2014.0141.02, Mr. Wizard's Experiments in Crystal Growing (science kit)

2014.0141.03, Mr. Wizard's Experiments in Chemistry (science kit)

2014.0141.04, Fun with the Mr. Wizard Science Set (science kit)

2014.0141.05, Mr. Wizard's Science Secrets (science kit)

2014.0141.06, Mr. Wizard's Experiments for Young Scientists (book)

2014.0141.07, Mr. Wizard's Supermarket Science (book)
Provenance:
The collection was donated by Mr. Wizard Studios, through Thomas E. Nikosey, President, and Kristen K. Nikosey, Vice President, in 2014.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research. Reference copies for audio and moving images materials do not exist. Use of these materials requires special arrangement. Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives.

Social Security numbers are present and have been rendered unreadable and redacted. Researchers may use the photocopies in the collection. The remainder of the collection has no restrictions.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Television personalities  Search this
Television -- educational shows  Search this
Science -- Study and teaching  Search this
Genre/Form:
Television programs
Storyboards
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- 20th century
Research
Books -- 20th century
Scripts (documents)
Speeches
Contracts
Videocassettes
DVDs
Slides (photographs) -- 20th century
Notes
Awards
Scrapbooks -- 20th century
Motion pictures (visual works) -- 20th century
Citation:
Mr. Wizard Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1326
See more items in:
Mr. Wizard Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1326
Additional Online Media:

Daniella Reichstetter Innovative Lives Presentation

Interviewee:
Reichstetter, Daniella  Search this
Creator:
Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.  Search this
Speaker:
Edwards, Tricia  Search this
Names:
Gyrobike  Search this
Extent:
0.15 Cubic feet (1 item)
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Interviews
Oral history
DVDs
Date:
2011 June 4
Scope and Contents:
An interview with inventor Daniella Reichstetter, who discusses her "gyrowheel" invention, which replaces the front wheel of a child's bike and rights the bike whenever it starts to tip. Reichstetter founded Gyrobike in 2007. The technology behind the gyrobike was developed at Dartmouth College and is protected under U.S. Patents 7,314,225 and 7,597,337.
Arrangement:
1 series.
Related Archival Materials:
Videohistory exists as .mov files (4.32 GB) in Lemelson Center. Originally shot in mini DV cassettes.
Provenance:
This videohistory was created by the Innovative Lives Program of the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, June 4, 2011.
Restrictions:
Unrestricted research access on site by appointment.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Inventions  Search this
Gyrostabilizers  Search this
Inventors  Search this
Bicycles  Search this
Genre/Form:
Interviews -- 2000-2020
Oral history -- 2010-2020
DVDs
Citation:
Daniella Reichstetter Innovative Lives Presentation, June 4, 2011, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1254
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1254

Sandford Greeting Card Company and Family Papers

Creator:
MacDowell, Helen Sandford, 1889-  Search this
Pease, L.F.  Search this
Prince, Georgiana K., 1861-1915  Search this
Sandford Greeting Card Company  Search this
Gilman, Georgiana Sandford, 1887-1982  Search this
Sandford, Frank S., 1853-1924  Search this
Sandford, Mary Elizabeth, 1852-1936  Search this
Sandford, Ruth, 1879-1972  Search this
Donor:
Gilman, R. Thompson  Search this
Gilman, R. Thompson  Search this
Names:
American Red Cross  Search this
Women's Christian Temperance Union  Search this
Extent:
8 Cubic Feet (37 boxes)
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Cartes-de-visite
Clippings
Travel diaries
Photograph albums
Programs
Advertising
Photographs
Letters (correspondence)
DVDs
Business cards
Trade catalogs
Genealogies
Diaries
Design drawings
Business records
Account books
Calling cards
Cabinet photographs
Daguerreotypes
Memoirs
Place:
Panama Canal (Panama)
Date:
1831-2004
Summary:
Collection documents the business activities of the Sandford Card Company and include the papers of Mary Elizabeth Sandford, founder of the company, and her immediate family.
Scope and Contents:
The collection documents the business activities of the Sandford Card Company primarily in the early part of the century. It includes product designs and samples; advertising and marketing materials, as well as, correspondence and financial papers. In addition, there are the papers of Mary Elizabeth Sandford, founder of the company, and her immediate family. These materials consist primarily of diaries, photographs, correspondence, family histories and genealogies. The collection is arranged into four series. Series one documents the business activities of the Sandford Card Company. Series two contains the personal papers of Mary Elizabeth Sandford, her husband Frank Sherman Sandford and their children. Series three is the personal papers of Mary Elizabeth Sandford's parents and siblings. Series four is the personal papers of extended family members mostly by marriage.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into four series.

Series 1: Sandford Card Company Records, 1880-1967; undated

Subseries 1.1: Correspondence, 1909-1936; undated

Subseries 1.2: Financial Records, 1880-1926; undated

Subseries 1.3: Product Designs and Samples, 1911-1941; undated

Subseries 1.4: Advertising and Marketing Materials, 1924-1967; undated

Series 2: Sandford Family Papers, 1831-2003; undated

Subseries 2.1: Frank Sherman Sandford, 1870-1925; undated

Subseries 2.2: Mary Elizabeth Kennedy Sandford, 1868-2003; undated

Subseries 2.3: Ruth Louise Sandford, 1900-1972; undated

Subseries 2.4: John Joseph Sanford, 1900-1987; undated

Subseries 2.5: Georgiana Kennedy Sandford Gilman, 1870-1973; undated

Subseries 2.6: Helen Louise Sandford McDowell, 1899-2000; undated

Subseries 2.7: Family Papers, 1831-1992; undated

Subseries 2.8: Frances Rohe, 1913, 1920; undated

Series 3: Kennedy Family Papers, 1861-2003; undated

Subseries 3.1: James Frank Kennedy, 1861-1920s; undated

Subseries 3.2: Mary Jane Durkee Kennedy, 1867-1882

Subseries 3.3: Lillian Frances Kennedy Pease, 1875-2003

Subseries 3.4: Emma Jane Kennedy, 1877-1883; undated

Subseries 3.5: Georgiana Kennedy Prince, 1878-1915; undated

Subseries 3.6: Family Papers, 1934-1992; undated

Series 4: Other Family Papers, 1840s-2004; undated

Subseries 4.1: Durkee Family, 1864-2004; undated

Subseries 4.2: Gilman Family, 1840s-1902

Subseries 4.3: Gilman Family, 1916-2004; undated

Subseries 4.4: McDowell Family, 1920; undated

Subseries 4.5: Pease Family, 1953-1984; undated
Biographical / Historical:
Mary Elizabeth Kennedy Sandford founded the Sandford Card Company in Dansville, New York in 1907. The Sandford Card Company was intended to provide consumers with a means to send messages to family and friends. These messages contained well thought out verses and images on products other than the typical postcards that were available during this time period. Initially, Mary Elizabeth created four verses with images and had five thousand of each printed by the F. A. Owen Publishing Company. The four samples were sent to two hundred bookstores and drugstores. Sales were later made with distributors and agents in various cities throughout the country. In addition, the company also sold cards to fraternal organizations using their symbols or mottos in the design. Eventually, fraternal organizations became a big part of the company's customer base expanding to more than fifty groups.

The company grew as a mail order business. All card shipments were made directly from Dansville, New York to forty eight states and countries including Canada, Alaska, Cuba, Japan, Guam, Philippines, Hawaii, Panama, and Netherlands, West Indies, England and Scotland. Although the Sandford Card Company started as a greeting card business it eventually offered place cards, calling cards, calendars, program folders, napkins, banquet supplies, gifts and souvenirs to its product line. All printing work was contracted out to lithographic businesses in New York, Boston and Cincinnati. With the death of Mary Elizabeth Sandford and her husband Frank Sherman Sandford the company continued to be operated under the guidance of their daughter Ruth Louise Sandford. In 1948, Ruth Sandford hired John G. Holden as business manager. In 1965, the company moved from Dansville to Baldwinsville, New York under the management of the third generation of the founding family. It continued to operate as a family business until 19?? when it was sold to John G. Holden. The company was later purchased by Rodney Pease the grandson of Mary Elizabeth Sandford's sister Lillian Frances Pease. Pease eventually changed the name of the company and took it in a different direction.
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center

Lillian Pease Card Company Records (AC1251)
Provenance:
Donated to the Archives Center in 2011 by R. Thompson Gilman, Executor for the estate of Elizabeth G. Essley.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Women-owned business enterprises  Search this
Women -- Political activity  Search this
Women -- Organizations  Search this
Postcards -- 20th century  Search this
Greeting cards -- 20th century  Search this
Greeting card industry  Search this
Family-owned business enterprises  Search this
Women's suffrage -- United States  Search this
Temperance  Search this
Health resorts  Search this
Genre/Form:
Cartes-de-visite
Clippings -- 20th century
Travel diaries -- 20th century
Photograph albums -- 20th century
Programs -- 20th century
Advertising -- 20th century
Photographs -- 20th century
Letters (correspondence) -- 19th century
DVDs
Business cards
Trade catalogs -- 20th century
Genealogies
Photographs -- 19th century
Diaries -- 20th century
Design drawings -- 20th century
Business records -- 20th century
Account books -- 20th century
Letters (correspondence) -- 20th century.
Calling cards
Cabinet photographs
Diaries -- 19th century
Daguerreotypes
Memoirs
Citation:
Sandford Greeting Card Company and Family Papers, circa 1839-2000; undated, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1252
See more items in:
Sandford Greeting Card Company and Family Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1252
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