Family Portraits

Under the Blue Umbrella - "Family Portraits"

Under the Blue Umbrella

Originally aired 1977(?) on South Carolina Instructional Television

Recorded March 9, 1990; 12:45 p.m. from Maryland Public Television

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"Family Portraits" is an episode of the educational 1970s program Under the Blue Umbrella.

This show is obscure-upon-obscure, so much so that this seems to be the only recording of it to exist. I can't find any information on when it first started airing, how many episodes were produced, or when the last episode produced aired. I know more about this program than a majority of the human race and yet I've only seen 11 minutes of it. Given the lack of information about it anywhere, I'll try and sum up what I know.

Under the Blue Umbrella was an educational series produced by South Carolina Instructional Television (ITV) that debuted sometime in 1977. I wasn't sure of which year it first aired until YouTube user jhillst reached out to me on my upload of "Family Portraits" to inform me that a teacher's guide he owns gives some indication that Umbrella is originally from '77. I looked into it a bit more and the earliest mention of its existence that I could find was a newspaper article dated April 14, 1977 that promoted an episode focusing on a 19th century village in Westville, Georgia. If all of this lines up, the series must have premiered sometime between January and April of 1977.

As for when the final episode was produced, I have no idea. As of 2021, the only two episodes I can find a sliver of information on are this one and the one filmed in Westville. Unless somebody finds more printed material (newspapers, teacher's guide, etc.) or more recordings of Umbrella, this might be all to ever exist of it. Surprisingly, dozens of people reached out to me after I had uploaded the opening intro to the program last August with stories about how they had grown up watching it in school throughout the 1970s and '80s. I was curious to know how long and how far the series syndicated around the United States and was pleased with what I found.

The final rerun airing I was able to find was on January 29, 1998 at 12:30 p.m. on Rhode Island's WSBE-TV (now-renamed Rhode Island PBS). A whole 20 or 21 years after the show had initially aired, wow. As for how far the show travelled, I found instances of it airing in a TON of states from Maine, California, and even Alaska if you can believe that. For a show that seems to have been incredibly popular and long-lasting for what it was, why am I the only person to have found it? It's baffling that this recording is currently the only one.


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Page created: July 26, 2021 | Last updated: August 2, 2021