rotating decorative images from SCUA collections

White Light Communications Collection

1989-1999
150 items (54 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 984

A not-for-profit media company based in Burlington, Vermont, White Light Communications produced dozens of videos during the late 1980s and early 1990s reflecting the voices and experiences of psychiatric survivors. With initial funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, Executive Director Paul Engels and his colleagues, all psychiatric survivors themselves, built a fully-equipped television production studio and conducted nearly one hundred interviews with ex-patients and leaders in the antipsychiatry movement. Although most of the interviews were conducted in Burlington, they also produced documentaries, and covered national events such as the final two Alternatives conferences and "Self Help Live," a broadcast that focused on highlighting consumer/survivor leaders.

The hundreds of video interviews and other productions that comprise the White Light Communications collection were produced by, for, and about psychiatric survivors. Paul Engels interviewed nearly a hundred ex-patients including important leaders in the movement such as Judi Chamberlin, Sally Zinman, Howie the Harp, and George Ebert, and several episodes focused on the mental health system and activism in Vermont. The subjects of the interviews range widely from homelessness to involuntary treatment, peer support, suicide, surviving the mental health system, and the history of the psychiatric survivors movement.

See similar SCUA collections:

Background on White Light Communications

A media production company dedicated to recording the voices of the anti-psychiatry movement, White Light Communications was established as a 501 (c) (3) organization in 1988 with Paul Engels (then Paul Dorfner) as Executive Director. With the assistance of Andrea Blanch of the University of Vermont, Engels successfully applied for one of six Consumer Demonstration Grants available through the National Institute of Mental Health, securing nearly $500,000 over three years (1989-1992) to fund their activities: theirs was the only communications project funded by NIMH.

With NIMH support, White Light Communications purchased television production equipment and rented a space on Kilburn Street in Burlington, Vermont, for five years that they outfitted as a full television production studio and editing suite. The White Light team included three full-time employees -- Engels, his assistant and office manager Sally Angier (later Gignon), and Irene Rae, who directed many of the productions -- and received valuable support from Michael Deacon who was instrumental in many of the productions; Dharam Yadav, University of Vermont faculty advisor and project evaluator; and business manager Gene Racine, along with several production assistants. All were psychiatric survivors, as were all members of the board of directors.

White Light Communications focused closely on recording the perspectives of psychiatric survivors and included interviews with several pioneers in the movement such as Judi Chamberlin, Howie the Harp, and Sally Zinman. Most of the productions were recorded in the Kilburn Street studio, however Engels and his team traveled to Pittsburgh and Berkeley when preparing their two documentaries and to Columbia, South Carolina, to cover Self Help Live, which was produced at South Carolina Public Broadcasting and telecast live throughout North America. Hundreds of psychiatric survivors gathered in groups around North America to view the productions live and to call in questions to the panelists. White Light also interviewed noted figures in disability activism, such as Justin Dart, Paul Carling, and Jackie Parrish, who was their initial contact and major supporter at NIMH.

After the conclusion of the NIMH grant, White Light Communications received funding from the van Amerigen Foundation in NYC and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for an additional two years.

Scope of collection

The hundreds of video interviews and other productions that comprise the White Light Communications collection were produced by, for, and about psychiatric survivors. Paul Engels interviewed nearly a hundred ex-patients including some of the movement's most important leaders, such as Judi Chamberlin, Sally Zinman, Howie the Harp, George Ebert, and Kate Millett, and several episodes focused in particular on activism in Vermont. The subjects of the interviews range widely from homelessness to involuntary treatment, peer support, suicide, surviving the mental health system, and the history of the psychiatric survivors movement.

In addition to interviewing survivors, Engels interviewed other important contributors to the movement, including the disability rights activist Justin Dart, NIMH administrator Jacqueline Parrish.

Series descriptions

Videotapes produced and distributed by White Light Communications. The series is organized into two subseries. First, White Light produced a television series from 1989-1992 called Psychiatric Survivors, containing interviews by Paul Engels with survivors and movement activists. Second, the company also produced other movement-related content, including covering the final two Alternatives conferences in Pittsburgh and Berkeley, and the Self Help Live event.

The collection includes a number of videos pertaining to the antipsychiatry movement, including a few that were produced commercially. There are valuable recordings from the 1990 conference on the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy, including a noteworthy audio recording of talks on the history of the movement by Judi Chamberlin and Sally Zinman, a talk by Kate Millett on her memoir, and a panel discussion on "Crazy women" that included Chamberlin, Zinman, and Millett, among others. The series also contains video and audio recordings commemorating passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, two productions on mental health in rural America, and a copy of Kevin Rafferty's film, Hurry Tomorrow.

Inventory

Series 1. White Light Communications productions
1989-1992
Psychiatric Survivors (television series)
1989-1992
Abajian, Greg: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 82)
2 U-matic cassette
Abajian, Greg: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 87)
3 U-matic cassette
Albee, George: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 58)
1 U-matic cassette
Barham, John: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 30)
1 U-matic cassette
Bliss, Charles: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 10)
0 U-matic cassette

On same cassette as Lynn Rockwell (9)

Brosius, John: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 26)
1 U-matic cassette
Carling, Paul: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 28)
2 VHS tape
Centybear, Todd and Susan Hope: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 38)
1 U-matic cassette
Chamberlin, Judi: On the ex-patients movement: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 50)
1990
3 U-matic cassette
1990
1 U-matic cassette
Clavelle, Peter: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 78)
2 U-matic cassette
Consalvo, Carmine: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 81)
1 U-matic cassette
Copeland, Rod: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 4)
1 U-matic cassette

Includes interview Rick Whitaker (18)

Copeland, Rod: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 4)
2 U-matic cassette

Includes interview with unidentified (5)

Copeland, Rod: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 4)
1 VHS tape

Includes Loomis (5) and Newhall (6)

Dalton, William: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 24)
1 U-matic cassette
De Carolis, Gary and Richard Love: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 20)
0 U-matic cassette

On same cassette as Employment (3)

De Carolis, Gary and Richard Love: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 20)
2 U-matic cassette
De Carolis, Gary and Richard Love: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 20)
0 U-matic cassette

On same cassette as unidentified (19)

Diamond, Ron: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 12)
0 U-matic cassette

On same cassette as Gilberto Romero (11)

Diamond, Ron: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 12)
1 VHS tape
Douglas, Rick: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 25)
1 U-matic cassette
Douglas, Rick: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 26)
1 VHS tape
Drew, Leslie: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 80)
3 U-matic cassette

On same cassette as interview with George and Maryanne Ebert (8)

Includes interview George Ebert (8)

Employment: Michael Robinson and Diane De Pratti: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 3)
1 U-matic cassette

Includes interview with Gary de Carolis (20)

Employment: Michael Robinson and Diane De Pratti: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 3)
1 U-matic cassette
Engels, Paul: Involuntary treatment (Psychiatric Survivors show 86)
5 U-matic cassette
Graci, Steve and Rick Whitaker: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 18)
0 U-matic cassette

On same cassette as Rod Copeland (4)

Graci, Steve and Rick Whitaker: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 18)
0 U-matic cassette

On same cassette as unidentified (17)

Harnois, Gaston: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 47)
2 U-matic cassette
Holmbald, Anne: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 65)
1 U-matic cassette
Howie the Harp: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 13)
1 U-matic cassette

Includes interview with Tom Posey (14)

Howie the Harp: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 13)
0 VHS tape

On same tape as Ebert (7), Ebert (8), and Posey (14)

Howie the Harp: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 13)
4 VHS tape
Introduction to psychiatric survivors: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 1)
1 U-matic cassette
Keeler, Joyce: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 83)
3 U-matic cassette
Lambert, Sue: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 34)
1 U-matic cassette

Includes interview with Sheryl Witensky (16)

McMains, William: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 77)
1 U-matic cassette
Mental patients' television: "Test: not for broadcast" (Psychiatric Survivors show no.)
1 VHS tape
Mental patients' television: "Test: not for broadcast" (Psychiatric Survivors show no.)
U-matic cassette
Merkely, Sandy: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 27)
1 U-matic cassette
Newhall, Bill: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 6)
U-matic cassette
Newhall, Bill: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 6)
0 VHS tape

On same tape as Loomis (4) and Loomis (5)

NOT on U-MATIC (Psychiatric Survivors show 37)
U-matic cassette
NOT on U-MATIC (Psychiatric Survivors show 39)
U-matic cassette
NOT on U-MATIC (Psychiatric Survivors show 41)
U-matic cassette
NOT on U-MATIC (Psychiatric Survivors show 53)
U-matic cassette
NOT on U-MATIC (Psychiatric Survivors show 54)
U-matic cassette
NOT on U-MATIC (Psychiatric Survivors show 62)
U-matic cassette
NOT on U-MATIC (Psychiatric Survivors show 76)
U-matic cassette
NOT on U-MATIC (Psychiatric Survivors show 85)
U-matic cassette
Parrish, Jacqueline: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 33)
1990
3 U-matic cassette
Posey, Tom: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 14)
0 U-matic cassette

On same cassette as Howie the Harp (13)

Posey, Tom: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 14)
0 VHS tape

On same tape as Ebert (7), Ebert (8), and Howie the Harp (13)

Posey, Tom: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 14)
6 VHS tape
Psychiatric Survivors, vol. 1 (Psychiatric Survivors show 1)
1989
1 VHS tape
Psychiatric Survivors, vol. 1-3 (Psychiatric Survivors show 1-3)
4 VHS tape
Psychiatric Survivors, vol. 1-4 (Psychiatric Survivors show 1-4)
1 VHS tape
Psychiatric Survivors, vol. 4-6 (Psychiatric Survivors show 4-6)
4 VHS tape
Robinson, Ron: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 71)
1 U-matic cassette
Rockwell, Lynn: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 9)
1 U-matic cassette

Includes interview with Charles Bliss (10)

Romero, Gilbert: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 11)
1 U-matic cassette

Includes interview with Ron Diamond (12)

Russell, Mikell: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 78)
3 U-matic cassette
Rutland Support Group: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 48)
1 U-matic cassette
Sawyer, Malcolm: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 29)
1 U-matic cassette
Schmidt, Jim: Fountain House no. 1: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 91)
4 U-matic cassette
Schmidt, Jim: Fountain House no. 2: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 92)
3 U-matic cassette
Smith, Garrett: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 79)
2 U-matic cassette
Smith, Garrett: For ADC: raw material (Psychiatric Survivors show no.)
U-matic cassette
Soaring Dove, Rikki: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 42)
1 U-matic cassette
Soaring Dove, Rikki: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show no.)
1 VHS tape
Stone, Claudia: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 31)
2 U-matic cassette
Surviving bigotry: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 45)
U-matic cassette
Tacks: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 70)
1 U-matic cassette
Timblin, Peg: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 15)
1 U-matic cassette

Includes interview with unidentified (17)

Timblin, Peg: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 15)
1 U-matic cassette
Unidentified (Psychiatric Survivors show 17)
1 U-matic cassette

Includes interview with unidentified (18)

Unidentified (Psychiatric Survivors show 17)
0 U-matic cassette

On same cassette as Peg Timblin (15)

Unidentified (Psychiatric Survivors show 19)
1 U-matic cassette

Includes interview with unidentified (20)

Unity Coalition rally (Psychiatric Survivors show 57)
2 U-matic cassette
Witensky, Sheryl: interview with Paul Engels (Psychiatric Survivors show 16)
0 U-matic cassette

On same cassette as Bob Loomis (5)

Other White Light Communications productions

1993 Apr. 30
1 U-matic cassette
Alternatives 90
1990
2 U-matic cassettes
Alternatives 90
1990
1 Audiocassette
Carling, Paul
2 U-matic cassette
1992 Mar. 23
3 U-matic cassette
1992
2 U-matic cassette
Engels, Paul: Discussion
1 U-matic S cassette
Howie the Harp (Other White Light show no.)
1999 Aug.
1 Audiocassette
Individuals right in the mental health system: part 1
1 U-matic cassette
Individuals right in the mental health system: part 2
1 U-matic cassette
Million dollar hole (documentary on Vermont State Hospital)
2 U-matic cassette
Million dollar hole: A-roll
1 U-matic cassette
Million dollar hole: B-roll
1 U-matic cassette
Self Help Live: Roll (INS)
U-matic cassette
Self Help Live
1 U-matic cassette
Self Help Live: No. 1
1990
1 VHS tape
Self Help Live: No. 2
1990
1 VHS tape
Self Help Live: No. 3
1990
1 VHS tape
1992
2 VHS tape
Self Help Live: Patients' rights and involuntary treatment
1990
2 VHS tape
Self Help Live: Logo
1990
2 VHS tape
Self Help Live 4: part 1
1 3/4 open reel
Self Help Live 4: part 2
1 3/4 open reel
Self Help Live: Fanfare, psychiatric survivors
1 Audiocassette
Self Help Live: Rocky No-Winkle
1 Audiocassette
Sexual preference : "Not for broadcast: test"
1 U-matic cassette
White Light
Audiocassette
Series 2. Psychiatric survivors movement materials (not White Light Communications)
1989-1992
National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy presentations
1990
Breggin, Peter: Psychiatry: past, present, and future
1990
1 VHS tape
Chamberlin, Judi: Filling in for Rae Unzicker
1990
1 VHS tape
FDA regulatory proceedings concerning ECT: Marilyn Price
1990
1 Audiocassette
Historical perspectives on the movement: Judi Chamberlin and Sally Zinman
1990
1 Audiocassette
Levy, Ron: Future of mental health law (NARPA '90)
1990
1 VHS tape
Millett, Kate: Loony-bin trip
1990
1 VHS tape
Millett, Kate: Crazy Women panel discussion: Kate Millett, Sally Zinman, Bostick, Weiser, Judi Chamberlin
1990
2 VHS tape
Using other groups: coalitions: Curba, Zinman, and Reum
1990
1 Audiocassette
Other movement-related videos
1990
43 videos
Americans with Disabilities Act: Signing ceremony and White House Rose Garden ceremony
1990-1991
1 VHS tape
Americans with Disabilities Act: White House Rose Garden ceremony
1991
1 VHS tape
Americans with Disabilities Act
1995
1 VHS tape
Asylums
1 VHS tape
Breggin, Peter: Toxic psychiatry: radio talk show
1991 Nov.
1 Audiocassette
Bringing in the
1 VHS tape
Capitol clubhouse
1 VHS tape
Centro Franco Basaglia
1 VHS tape
Coming to the country: rural mental health
1 VHS tape
Coping with depression
1 VHS tape
Crazy women: madness, myth, and metaphor
1 VHS tape
Dream team
1 VHS tape
General session: People with disabilities and the media
1992 May 28
1 Audiocassette
Health care security: Challenge to America
1 VHS tape
Hurry tomorrow, a film by Kevin Rafferty
1 VHS tape
Hurry tomorrow, a film by Kevin Rafferty
3 reels (16mm.)
Making changes; New Jersey Mental Health Consumer Movement
1 VHS tape
Many faces of homelessness
1 VHS tape
Mental illness in rural America
1990
1 VHS tape
Millett, Kate: University of Virginia
1999 Feb. 14
1 Hi8 tape
New York State Office of Mental Helth
1 U-matic S cassette
NIMH: NIMH media show
1 VHS tape
Our housing initiative
1 VHS tape
Psychiatry's dark side: No. 1
1 U-matic cassette
Rainbow
1 VHS tape
RecoveryNet: Best of demo
1 Audiocassette
RecoveryNet: Help line demo
1 Audiocassette
Roughs
4 U-matic cassette
Southern Poverty Law Center
1 VHS tape
Teleconference
1992
1 VHS tape
This is RETN
1997-1998
1 VHS tape
Unidentified
U-matic cassette
Vermont Access Network: Public meeting
1997 Nov.
1 VHS tape
Vermont regionalization meeting
1989 Oct. 10
1 Hi8 tape
Westfield House: Interviews , no. 1
1 VHS tape
Westfield House: Interviews , no. 2
1 VHS tape
Westfield House: 4th annual Evening of the Arts
1 VHS tape
Westfield House: Evening of the Arts
1 Hi8 tape
Westfield House: Evening of the Arts
1 Hi8 tape
Westfield House: no. 1
Hi8 tape
Westfield House: no. 2
Hi8 tape
Women and madness
1 VHS tape
You are not alone
1 VHS tape

Administrative information

Access

The collection is open for research.

Provenance

Gift of Paul Engels, May 2017 (2017-074).

Processing Information

Processed by I. Eliot Wentworth, Aug. 2017.

Digitized content

Selected videotapes have been digitized and are available for viewing online in our digital repository, Credo.

Language:

English

Copyright and Use (More information )

Cite as: White Light Communications Collection (MS 985). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms

Subjects

  • Antipsychiatry
  • Civil rights movements--United States
  • Ex-mental patients
  • Mental health services--United States
  • Mental illness--Alternative treatment
  • Mentally ill--Civil rights--United States

Contributors

  • White Light Communications [main entry]
  • Engels, Paul
  • Chamberlin, Judi, 1944-2010
  • Dart, Justin, 1930-2002
  • Millett, Kate
  • Zinman, Sally

Genres and formats

  • Oral histories (Document genres)
  • U-matic
  • Videotapes

Link to similar SCUA collections