Inventory of the Firing Line (Television Program) Broadcast Records

Processed by Natasha Porfirenko.
Hoover Institution Archives
Stanford University
Stanford, California 94305-6010
Phone: (650) 723-3563
Fax: (650) 725-3445
Email: archives@hoover.stanford.edu
© 2003, 2009
Hoover Institution Archives. All rights reserved.

Inventory of the Firing Line (Television Program) Broadcast Records

Hoover Institution Archives

Stanford University

Stanford, California
Processed by:
Natasha Porfirenko
Date Completed:
2003, 2009
Encoded by:
Machine-readable finding aid derived from Microsoft Word and MARC record by Lisa Miller and Natasha Porfirenko.
© 2009 Hoover Institution Archives. All rights reserved.

Collection Summary

Title: Firing Line (Television Program) Broadcast Records
Dates: 1966-1999
Collection Number: 80040
Collection Size: 189 manuscript boxes, 218 oversize boxes, 3 card file boxes, 352 linear feet of video recordings (948 linear feet)
Repository: Hoover Institution Archives
Stanford, California 94305-6010
Abstract: Videotape film and transcripts of television series hosted by William F. Buckley and produced by the Southern Educational Communications Association, relating to conservative thought, especially in the United States, and to American foreign and domestic policy. Also includes background research files, administrative files, sound recordings and photographs. A searchable database describing all Firing Line programs is available at http://hoohila.stanford.edu/firingline/ .
Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
Languages: English

Administrative Information

Access

Collection is open for research.
The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

Publication Rights

For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Firing Line (Television Program) Broadcast Records, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.

Acquisition Information

Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 2002.

Accruals

Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog Socrates at http://library.stanford.edu/webcat . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in Socrates is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

Alternative Forms of Material Available

Firing Line transcripts are available for immediate download on the Hoover Institution website at http://hoohila.stanford.edu/firingline/ .

Historical Note

With 1,505 installments over 33 years, Firing Line is the longest-running public-affairs show with a single host, William F. Buckley Jr., in television history.
Firing Line kept substantially the same basic format throughout its run, but with certain variations.
(1) It began as an hour-long show for commercial television (i.e., with time subtracted for commercial breaks), syndicated by WOR in New York City.
In 1971, under the auspices of the Southern Educational Communications Association (SECA), it moved to public television and became a full hour. This move is reflected in a numbering change in the programs: shows numbered 1 through 240 were on commercial television; the SECA series then begins with S1, taped on May 26, 1971. The WOR shows were numbered according to the order in which they were taped; the SECA shows were numbered according to the order in which they were first broadcast.
In 1988 the length of the regular shows was changed to a half-hour.
(2) Starting in 1978, interspersed among the regular shows are occasional specials and two-hour debates--formal debates, with opening statements, cross-examination, and closing statements. The debates were initially numbered as regular shows (the first Firing Line Debate was S306, although a debate sponsored by Columbia College's Debate Council was filmed as shows S296 and S297 a few weeks earlier). Beginning in 1986, a separate numbering system was instituted for Firing Line Specials (with the number prefaced by the letters FLS). (Note: Debates listed as "Part I" and "Part II" were shown on consecutive weeks in the regular time slot rather than being shown all at once in a special two-hour time slot.)
Starting with S961, in March of 1993, the formal debate would often be followed by two or more shows in which roughly the same participants were released from the debate format for informal discussion.
(3) Over the years Buckley and his producer, Warren Steibel, used various methods of bringing an extra perspective to the discussion. In the early years there would often be a panel of three questioners--sometimes students, sometimes adults.
Starting in 1977 there would often be a single "examiner," who would play a larger part in the proceedings than the panel of questioners had typically done. The examiners who appeared most frequently were Jeff Greenfield, Michael Kinsley, Harriet Pilpel, and Mark Green.
In 1988, when the show went to half an hour, the examiner was eliminated, but there was often a "moderator," whose role was similar to that of the moderator in a formal debate. The moderator would introduce both host and guest, and then ask the opening question. The moderator appearing most frequently was Michael Kinsley.
Some early programs included a person called a "chairman," who functioned like a moderator. For programs discovered to have a chairman, he or she has been designated in the Hoover Institution Archive's online database of Firing Line programs by including the chairman's name in the guest field and the word "chairman" in the biography field. Some early programs had a three- or four-person panel. When located, these have been designated in the same database by including the names of persons in guest fields and the word "panelist" in the respective biography fields.
(4) Beginning with show 171, in October of 1969, approximately twice a year the tables would be turned, with a panel of questioners putting Buckley "on the firing line."
Source: Preface to the program catalogue compiled by Firing Line staff member Linda Bridges, included in box 1.

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection contains the records of the television series hosted by William F. Buckley and mainly produced by the Southern Educational Communications Association, relating to conservative thought, especially in the United States, and to American foreign and domestic policy. Material includes background research files, administrative files, photographs, videotapes and transcripts.
A searchable database describing all Firing Line programs is available at http://hoohila.stanford.edu/firingline/ .
The collection is organized into six series: Administrative files, Background materials, Publicity files, Transcripts, Sound recordings, and Video recordings.
The Administrative files document the creation of the program. Files contain a catalogue of transcripts, Firing Line guests' topic lists, programs lists, Special Debates lists, correspondence with prominent politicians, economists, and scientists, as well as viewer comments and suggestions. Press releases, newsletters, newspaper clippings, and files on William F. Buckley and Warren Steibel, the Firing Line producer-director, are also included. Photographs, negatives, and slides of William F. Buckley individually and with the guests on his shows complete the records.
The Background materials contain two sets of files: Speaker files and Program files. Both types of files include preparation materials, such as clippings, correspondence, transcripts, histories, press summaries, and printed matter, as well as other collected materials on speakers and their appearances on the Firing Line shows. Some files include the transcript of the show although not every show or speaker is represented with a file.
The Speaker files are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the speaker. Speakers who made multiple appearances may have several files. The William F. Buckley book On the Firing Line: The Public Life of Our Public Figures (Random House, New York, 1989) contains an alphabetical list of guests on Firing Line (see box 7).
Program files are arranged by the type of show: public television shows, special programs, and debates, and then by show number.
Publicity files cover the Public television shows under the auspices of the SECA, and contain materials such as still photographs, negatives, and slides, as well as transcripts, newsletters, and other documents, although the type of material available on a particular program varies.
Transcripts of the television shows are arranged by the type of show, and then by show number. Some Firing Line transcripts are available for immediate download on the Hoover Institution website.
There are two productions hosted by William F. Buckley that were not Firing Line programs. The shows have been designated as 000a and 000b. These programs are included in the data base and have been placed at the beginning of the Firing Line transcripts.
Sound recordings contain sound tracks of the early Firing Line television shows on open reel tapes and compact sound cassettes.
Video recordings include videotapes of most shows in a variety of formats. Some shows are recorded on videotape formats that are approaching obsolescence. The Hoover Institution is gradually preserving and transferring the shows to a modern format. Many videotapes have been digitized; additional reformatting depends on funding. Priority for transfer is given to the most endangered formats and to the programs most requested. Videotapes of programs that have not been reformatted are typically not available for immediate viewing. Selected programs can be viewed in the Hoover Archives reading room or purchased from Amazon.com. Please contact Hoover Institution Archives for information.

Arrangement

The collection is organized into six series: Administrative files, Background materials, Publicity files, Transcripts, Sound recordings, and Video recordings.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Conservatism
United States--Politics and government.
United States-Foreign relations-20th century
United States-Politics and government-20th century
Buckley, William F. (William Frank), 1925-
Southern Educational Communications Association
Video tapes.


Collection Contents

Box: 1-15, 193

Administrative files, 1966-1994

Physical Description: 6.4 linear feet

Scope and Content Note

The files include a catalogue of transcripts, guest and topic lists, a card catalogue of Firing Line guests, memoranda, pamphlets, press releases, press reviews, newsletters, clippings, correspondence, photographs, negatives, microfiche, and slides. This section contains correspondence with prominent politicians, economists, scientists, as well as viewer comments and suggestions arranged chronologically. Series also includes personal information of William F. Buckley and Warren Steibel, the Firing Line producer-director. Additionally, photographs, negatives, and slides depict William F. Buckley individually and with the guests of his shows. Also includes an oversize photo of William F. Buckley

Arrangement

Series arranged chronologically.
 

General

Box: 1

Catalogue of transcripts/audio cassettes, 1971-1999

Box: 1

Guest and topic lists, 1966-1999

Box: 1

Program lists, 1977-1999

Box: 1

Special Debates lists, 1986-1999

Box: 1

Fonts and messages, 1995-1999

Physical Description: 90 MB Bernoulli disc
Box: 1

Theme music, 1998

Physical Description: compact disc
Box: 1

Fifth anniversary, 1971

Box: 1

Twenty-fifth anniversary, 1991

Box: 2-3

Card catalogue, Firing Line guests (A-Z) circa 1966-1999

Box: 4

Microfiche of early program transcripts, 1966-1968

Physical Description: number 1-113
Box: 5

Press releases, press reviews, and newspaper clippings, 1970-1994

Box: 5

Newsletters, 1968-1984

Box: 6

Newsletters, 1985-1994

Box: 6

Introductions and notes, circa 1970-1990

Box: 6

Memoranda, pamphlets, and other materials, 1970-1978

Box: 6

Warren Steibel, Firing Line producer-director files, 1994-1997.

Physical Description: Includes his extensive memoranda to Program managers
Box: 193

Two flyers depicting African American young man called Would You Be More Careful if It Was You That Got Pregnant? Undated

Physical Description: oversize
 

William F. Buckley files, 1985-1992

Box: 7

Personal information, circa 1970-1980

Box: 7

Commencement, University of South Carolina, 1985 December 15

Box: 7

On the Firing Line: The Public Life of Our Public Figures, Random House, New York, 1989.

Physical Description: Printed copy
Box: 7

Asian trip, 1992

Box: 8

Photographs, circa 1966-1999

Physical Description: Depicting William F. Buckley individually and with the guests of his shows
Box: 193

William F. Buckley photo, undated,

Physical Description: oversize
Box: 9

Negatives, circa 1966-1999.

Physical Description: Contain negatives of various moments during Firing Line shows and their participants
Box: 9-10

Slides, circa 1966-1990.

Physical Description: Consists of slides depicting moments on Firing Line shows and their participants
Box: 11-15

Correspondence, 1966-1994.

Physical Description: Arranged chronologically
Box: 11

General correspondence, 1966

Box: 11

Viewer comments, 1966

Box: 11

General correspondence, 1967

Box: 11

Viewer comments, 1967

Box: 11

General correspondence, 1968

Box: 11

Firing Line guests suggestions and comments, 1968

Box: 12

Business, 1968

Box: 12

General correspondence, 1969

Box: 12

Firing Line guests suggestions and comments, 1969

Box: 12

Alphabetical (A-R), 1970-1978

Box: 13

Alphabetical (P-Z), 1970-1978

Box: 13

Omega Communications, 1980-1982

Box: 13

General correspondence, 1981

Box: 13

Friends of Firing Line, 1981-1983

Box: 14

Firing Line guests, 1982

Box: 14

General correspondence, 1983

Box: 14

Unemployment letters, 1983

Box: 14

General correspondence, 1984

Box: 14

Firing Line guests, 1984

Box: 14

Friends of Firing Line, 1984

Box: 14

General correspondence, 1985

Box: 14

Firing Line guests, 1985

Box: 14

General correspondence, 1986

Box: 14

Firing Line guests, 1986

Box: 14

Viewer correspondence on the program Harvest of Despair, 1986

Box: 15

General correspondence, 1987

Box: 15

Firing Line guests, 1987

Box: 15

General correspondence, 1988

Box: 15

Firing Line guests, 1988

Box: 15

General correspondence, 1989

Box: 15

Firing Line guests, 1989

Box: 15

General correspondence, 1990

Box: 15

General correspondence, 1991

Box: 15

General correspondence, 1993-1994

Box: 16-103

Background materials, 1966-1999

Physical Description: 35.2 linear feet

Scope and Content Note

Contains two sets of files: Speaker files and Program files. Both types of file include preparation materials, such as clippings, correspondence, transcripts, histories, press summaries, and printed matter as well as other collected material on speakers and their appearances on the Firing Line shows. The program files also include 42 Firing Line Special programs arranged by show number.

Arrangement

Program Files arranged by type of the show, then by the show number. Speaker's files are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the speaker.
Box: 16-103

Speaker file, 1966-1999.

Scope and Content Note

Arranged alphabetically by the last name of the speaker, though not all speakers have a file
Box: 16-19

A

Box: 19-27

B

Box: 27-30

C

Box: 30-33

D

Box: 33-34

E

Box: 34-36

F

Box: 36-40

G

Box: 40-43

H

Box: 43-47

K

Box: 47-50

L

Box: 50-55

M

Box: 55-57

N

Box: 57-58

O

Box: 58-61

P

Box: 61-63

R

Box: 63-64

S

Box: 64-69

W

Box: 69

W-Z

Box: 70-84

Commercial television shows 1966-1971

Physical Description: syndicated by WOR in New York City, programs 1-240.

Scope and Content Note

Arranged by program number, though not all programs have a file
Box: 70

1-17

Box: 71

18-34

Box: 72

35-48

Box: 73

50-62

Box: 74

63-75

Box: 75

76-97

Box: 76

98-114

Box: 77

115-135

Box: 78

136-149

Box: 79

150-167

Box: 80

168-177

Box: 81

178-191

Box: 82

192-202

Box: 83

203-216

Box: 84

218-240

Box: 85-100

Public television shows, 1971-1996

Physical Description: under the auspices of the Southern Educational Communications Association (SECA).

Scope and Content Note

Arranged by program number, though not all shows have a file
Box: 85

S1-S12

Box: 86

S14-S36

Box: 87

S39-S49

Box: 88

S50-S67

Box: 89

S68-S91

Box: 90

S93-S109

Box: 91

S111-S132

Box: 92

S133-S163

Box: 93

S165-S207

Box: 94

S209-S234

Box: 95

S235-S267

Box: 96

S273-S361

Box: 97

S362-S806

Box: 98

S987-S1037

Box: 99

S1038-S1085

Box: 100

S1086-S1111

Box: 100-102

Firing Line Specials (FLS), formal debates, 1987-1997

Scope and Content Note

Arranged by program number, though not all shows have a file
Box: 100

FLS002

Box: 101

FLS101-FLS117

Box: 102

FLS117-FLS129

Box: 103

Cancelled shows, 1966-1977

Box: 104-158

Publicity files, 1971-1999

Physical Description: 22 linear feet

Scope and Content Note

Describes Public television shows under the auspices of the Southern Educational Communications Association (SECA) generally containing publicity materials such as press releases, newsletters, photos, negatives, slides, and may include transcripts, though not every show has a file

Arrangement

Publicity files arranged by type of the show, then by the show number.
Box: 104-147

Public television shows, 1971-1999

Box: 104

S1-S18

Box: 105

S19-S39

Box: 106

S40-S60

Box: 107

S61-S99

Box: 108

S100-S132

Box: 109

S133-S169

Box: 110

S170-S197

Box: 111

S198-S227

Box: 112

S228-S260

Box: 113

S261-S294

Box: 114

S295-S325

Box: 115

S327-S369

Box: 116

S371-S407

Box: 117

S400-S435

Box: 118

S436-S462

Box: 119

S463-S499

Box: 120

S500-S537

Box: 121

S538-S568

Box: 122

S569-S608

Box: 123

S609-S635

Box: 124

S636-S661

Box: 125

S662-S684

Box: 126

S685-S717

Box: 127

S718-S746

Box: 128

S742-S777

Box: 129

S778-S809

Box: 130

S810-S841

Box: 131

S842-S872

Box: 132

S873-S900

Box: 133

S901-S916

Box: 134

S917-S939

Box: 135

S940-S962

Box: 136

S963-S990

Box: 137

S991-S1019

Box: 138

S1020-S1042

Box: 139

S1043-S1072

Box: 140

S1093-S1099

Box: 141

S1100-S1121

Box: 142

S1122-S1140

Box: 143

S1141-S1156

Box: 144

S1157-S1170

Box: 145

S1171-S1185

Box: 146

S1186-S1213

Box: 147

S1214-S1225

Box: 147-158

Firing Line Specials (FLS), 1986-1999

Box: 147

FLS001

Box: 148

FLS002, FLS101

Box: 149

FLS102- FLS105

Box: 150

FLS106- FLS109

Box: 151

FLS110- FLS114

Box: 152

FLS115- FLS118

Box: 153

FLS119- FLS121

Box: 154

FLS122- FLS126

Box: 155

FLS127- FLS131

Box: 156

FLS132, FLS201-203

Box: 157

FLS203- FLS205

Box: 158

FLS301, FLS302, FLS401

Box: 159-192

Transcripts, 1966-1999

Physical Description: 13.6 linear feet

Scope and Content Note

Typewritten and printed Firing Line transcripts. Series also includes two of William F. Buckley show transcripts that were not Firing Line shows.

Arrangement

Transcripts of the television series are arranged by the type of show, and then by show number.
Box: 159-168

Commercial television, 1966-1971

Scope and Content Note

syndicated by WOR in New York City, programs 1-240
Box: 159

000a, 000b, 1-22

Box: 160

23-50

Box: 161

51-75

Box: 162

76-100

Box: 163

101-125

Box: 164

126-145

Box: 165

146-167

Box: 166

168-191

Box: 167

192-212

Box: 168

213-240

Box: 169-190

Public television shows, 1971-1999

Scope and Content Note

under the auspices of the Southern Educational Communications Association (SECA)
Box: 169

S001-S50

Box: 170

S51-S100

Box: 171

S101-S159

Box: 172

S160-S219

Box: 173

S220-S291

Box: 174

S292-S360

Box: 175

S361-S413

Box: 176

S414-S464

Box: 177

S465-S524

Box: 178

S525-S586

Box: 179

S587-S649

Box: 180

S650-S705

Box: 181

S706-S753

Box: 182

S754-S806

Box: 183

S807-S866

Box: 184

S867-S928

Box: 185

S929-S995

Box: 186

S996-S1042

Box: 187

S1043-S1089

Box: 188

S1090-S1136

Box: 189

S1137-S1184

Box: 190

S1185-S1225

Box: 191-192

Firing Line Special (FLS) shows, 1986-1999

Box: 191

FLS001-FLS122

Box: 192

FLS123-FLS401

Box: 194-200, 408-410

Sound recordings, 1966-1971

Physical Description: 7 linear feet

Scope and Content Note

Sound recordings are the sound tracks of the Firing Line television shows, on open reel tapes and compact sound cassettes. The tapes are of the hour-long shows for commercial television with incomplete coverage of shows 2-240

Arrangement

Arranged by show number, though not all shows will have a sound recording
Box: 194

2, 19, 35, 40-72 (with gaps)

Box: 195

72-103 (with gaps)

Box: 196

104-142 (with gaps)

Box: 197

143-164 (with gaps)

Box: 198

165-183 (with gaps)

Box: 199

184-206 (with gaps)

Box: 200

207-240 (with gaps)

Box: 408-410

Other sound recordings

Box: 201-407, 352 linear feet

Video recordings, 1966-1999

Physical Description: 863.8 linear feet

Scope and Content Note

Includes video recordings of most shows in a variety of formats such as 2" tapes, 1" tapes, 3/4" tapes, Betacam SP tapes, VHS tapes, and SVHS tapes. Selected programs can be viewed in the Hoover Archives reading room or purchased from Amazon.com. Please contact Hoover Institution Archives for information. A searchable database describing all Firing Line programs is available at http://hoohila.stanford.edu/firingline/ .