Creating “Time for Science,” Hosting Eleanor Roosevelt
Reading through the oral history interview with Elizabeth Campbell, it’s hard to find a corner of Arlington life that she wasn’t involved in.
Education was a reoccurring theme in her myriad of interests; Mrs. Campbell was the only woman elected when the county adopted an elected school board, she started one of the earliest cooperative pre-schools in the area, and she became president of the Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association (GWETA) during its founding.
In this clip Mrs. Campbell is interviewed by her husband Edmund Campbell, and the two discuss her early work with GWETA.
NARRATOR: Edmund D. Campbell
INTERVIEWER: Elizabeth P. Campbell
DATE: September 3, 1984
EDC: The final major subject I want to talk about and get you to talk about briefly concerns the formation and early days particularly of the Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association which, in its early days, was almost exclusively an Arlington production. Tell us about that.
EPC: The needs of the schools at that time were particularly great in the area of science in the elementary schools, and I knew that there were two other communities in the nation that were using television to serve their schools, and so when I said I would be President of the Greater Washington Educational Television Association, I said, “We want to begin by serving the schools.” We were able to get the interest of twelve of the Superintendents of schools in the Washington metropolitan area to support a science program provided we could raise the money from foundations to get the programs on the air on a trial basis. We were able to do this, and for three years, we had “Time for Science”, a half hour program received in the fifth and sixth grades in all the Washington Area schools including the District of Columbia.
EDC: Did you have any especially interesting incidents that occurred while you were broadcasting from Yorktown High School?
EPC: Well, you see, all of our programs were live into the schools. We made the programs right there. We did a lot of production with two cameras and one tape machine that had been loaned to us by the Ford Foundation (they finally gave it to us) and so we wanted to have some special programs, particularly for the interest of the high school students because most of our programs were only for the elementary schools. We called and invited Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt to come out and do a program for us on careers, to inspire young women particularly to go out and have their own careers and also to serve their communities. The secretary said, “Well, Mrs. Roosevelt must have a place in which to rest when she comes out to the studio,” and I said, “All right.” I looked around. We were in very crowded quarters, and outside of the rooms that we used for studios, there was a broom closet, quite a large closet where they kept brooms and cleaning utensils. So we cleaned that out and put a chair in there and a table with a glass of water, and that’s where Mrs. Roosevelt rested. Then after the program was over, she let some of the high school seniors come and talk to her. That was a great thrill for them and for all of us. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the money or didn’t know enough to save that tape, and so we have no record of Mrs. Roosevelt’s being there. But I remember it very well, and it was one of the highlights of my experiences at Yorktown.
You can find Elizabeth Campbell’s interview in its entirety in the Center for Local History – VA 975.5295 A7243oh ser.3 no.27. Photo: Photograph of Elizabeth Campbell; Source: RG 19 Personal Papers of Elizabeth Pfohl Campbell, Subgroup 6 Series 3, 19-5837
The goal of the Arlington Voices project is to showcase the Center for Local History’s oral history collection in a publicly accessible and shareable way.
From June 2017 – May 2018, we will post one oral history clip and transcript each month, focusing on Arlington’s history, culture and identity.
What is the oral history collection?
Oral history is a popular method of research used for understanding historical events, actors, and movements from the point of view of people’s personal experiences.
The Arlington Public Library began collecting oral histories of long-time residents in the 1970s, and since then the scope of the collection has expanded to capture the diverse voices of Arlington’s community. In 2016, staff members and volunteers recorded many additional hours of interviews, building the collection to 575 catalogued oral histories.
To browse our list of narrators indexed by interview subject, check out our community archive. To read a full transcript of an interview, visit the Center for Local History located at Central Library.