Skip to Main Content

Congressional Quarterly & Roll Call Photograph Collections in the Library of Congress

Searching & Viewing

A growing proportion of the Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call Photograph Collection can be viewed online, but much more is available on site. Provided below is information about what can be viewed online and how on-site researchers locate and view contact sheets and larger prints in the collection.

Reading Room File of Contact Sheets

Maureen Keating, photographer. Republican v. Democrat game b-ball . 1990. CQ Roll Call Photograph Collection. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

For comprehensive viewing of the contact sheets (photographic prints that reproduce multiple negatives or 35-millimeter negative strips on a single sheet), an on-site visit is needed. Magnifying glasses are available upon request to help in viewing small 35mm frames on the contact sheets.

The collection is housed in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room, where patrons serve themselves after a brief orientation. The contact sheets are organized as follows:

  • Roll Call black-and-white contact sheets, 1988-2000
  • Roll Call color slides (color copies), 1987-2000
  • CQ black-and-white contact sheets, 1988-1997
  • CQ color slides (color copies), 1993-1995. Note: CQ color negative strips have been digitized - see below.

In each case, black-and-white and color copies are sorted by the year the photos were taken followed by a number that was assigned chronologically.

Although the contact sheets can be browsed in their chronological arrangement, they can be more effectively searched in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog using desired keywords and/or photographer names, combined with "CQ" (all contact sheet records have a note mentioning the collection as "CQ/Roll Call," so "CQ" retrieves material for both CQ and Roll Call).

The catalog record for a contact sheet will have a brief description of the images on the contact sheet, the date they were taken, information about the number and format of the images, and, most importantly, the call number which is used for finding the contact sheet in the reading room. The call number is used to find the correct folder in the file cabinets where the CQ and Roll Call contact sheets are stored. Once the folder is taken to a desk, the contact sheet can be located and viewed.

Groups of Images (LOTs)

The Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call collections also include other items which have been separated into LOTs (groups of related photos). Most of these items are larger format photos, but there is also some ephemera and a small number of slides.

To focus on searching the CQ/Roll Call LOTs, search the "Groups of Images" category in the Prints & Photograph Online Catalog, combining "CQ" with other search terms, if desired. Several of the LOTs have unpublished finding aids in the reading room which may help narrow down where best to look for a specific photo.

LOTs can be requested in the Prints & Photographs reading room by filling out a call slip. Once the LOT is retrieved, a researcher can browse through the group of photos, one folder at a time.

The CQ/Roll Call groups are:

Color Negatives

Scott J. Ferrell, photographer. Campaign finance hearings. 1997. CQ Roll Call Photograph Collection. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

In order to make the extensive color negative materials in the CQ portion of the collection readily available, the color negative strips were digitized at a resolution sufficient to see what each of the frames shows. To focus a search on the color negatives, include "CQ06" (the designation for the color negative series) with keywords or names in the search (this will also retrieve any of the color negative frames that have been selected to be scanned at high resolution). For example, a search for CQ color negatives of the House Agriculture Committee would be: House Agriculture Committee CQ06.

The title, date, and photographer information in the descriptions for the negative strips came with the collection; caption/summary information for the contents of the strip is present in the description only when provided by CQ.

Additional Search Tips

Most of the titles and captions in the online catalog descriptions rely on information recorded by CQ and Roll Call in material that came with the collection. Proper names are not always fully spelled out. Therefore:

  • Use surnames if they are relatively distinctive, in case, for instance, a particular senator's first name was not included in the caption.
  • Use words from a Congressional hearing or committee name, rather than the full name.

Selected Images Online

Images that have been digitized include:

R. Michael Jenkins, photographer. Senators John Warner and Chuck Robb talking on mobile phones with Jesse Jackson in background. ca. 1995. CQ Roll Call Photograph Collection. Lot 15025. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.
  • Color negative strips from Congressional Quarterly, which can only be accessed through reference scans found in the online catalog (see above). A small number (less than 100) of these 35mm negatives strips were taken by someone who wasn't a known CQ staff member or the photographer is not identified. Since we can't be sure of the rights status of these images, they are only downloadable when you are at the Library of Congress.
  • A growing number of images scanned from 35mm negative frames, individual slides, or larger photographic prints. As researchers purchase digital copies, those individual images are cataloged and added to the online catalog. Staff have also selected some photographs to be digitized in order to show the breadth and strengths of the collections. To locate the high resolution digitized images, combine the phrase "CQ" with the phrase "LC-DIG" and the name, place, topic, or year you are looking for. For example, to find higher resolution images of the House Agriculture Committee, try: cq lc-dig house agriculture. Images that were made by staff photographers and, therefore, have no known restrictions, display in the full range of sizes no matter where you searching from. Images not by staff photographers display only at thumbnail size to those searching from outside Library of Congress buildings.

Further Information