Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: A History
In November, 1953, at the request of WQED Pittsburgh, the nation's first community-sponsored educational television station, Rogers moved back to Pennsylvania. The station was not yet on the air, and Rogers was asked to develop the first program schedule. One of the first programs he produced was THE CHILDREN'S CORNER. It was a daily, live, hour-long visit with music and puppets and host Josie Carey. Rogers served as puppeteer, composer, and organist. In 1955, THE CHILDREN'S CORNER won the Sylvania Award for the best locally produced children's program in the country. It was on THE CHILDREN'S CORNER that several regulars of today's MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD made their first appearances -- among them, Daniel Striped Tiger. X the Owl, King Friday XIII, Henrietta Pussycat, and Lady Elaine Fairchilde.
During off-duty hours, Rogers attended both the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Child Development. He graduated from the Seminary and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1963 with a charge to continue his work with children and families through the mass media. Later that year, Rogers was invited to create a program for the CBC program in Canada, which the head of children's programming there dubbed MISTEROGERS. It was on this series that Rogers made his on-camera debut as the program's host. When he and his wife and two sons returned to Pittsburgh in 1966, he incorporated segments of the CBC into a new series which was distributed by the Eastern Educational Network. This series was called MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD. In 1968 it was made available for national distribution through the National Educational Television (NET) which later became Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
In 1968, Rogers was appointed Chairman of the Forum on Mass Media and Child Development of the White House Conference on Youth. Besides two George Foster Peabody Awards, Emmys, "Lifetime Achievement" Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the TV Critics Association, Fred Rogers received every major award in television for which he is eligible and many others from special-interest groups in education, communications, and early childhood. In 1999, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. The final episode of MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD aired on August 21, 2001.
To learn even more about the program, visit The Neighborhood Archive, the only officially-endorsed online encyclopedia of all things Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.