Skip to Main Content

Moving Image Research at the Library of Congress

Finding Moving Images and Collections

Warren K. Leffler, photographer. TV monitor at WRC-TV 1964 summer Olympics from Tokyo. 1964. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

There are several ways to find moving image materials in the collections at the Library, including searching the Library of Congress Online Catalog and using online and published collection guides and finding aids.

It's important to note, however, that not all of our materials are discoverable using the catalogs and strategies described here. The Moving Image Research Center has a number of onsite resources that are not searchable through the Library's website. If you can't find what you're looking for, don't hesitate to get in touch with us using the Ask a Librarian service.

For helpful information on abbreviations and terms frequently encountered when doing moving image research, visit the Useful Abbreviations and Terms section of this guide.

Library of Congress Online Catalog

Advanced Search is the quickest way to find film or video (see screenshot below):
- Include movingim or motion picture in one of the keyword fields to limit your results to only moving image materials.
- You can also Add Limits by clicking the white button right above the Search button.
- Search for moving image materials by title
. Many of the items in our collections are not fully cataloged, so subject access is limited. And keep in mind that we do not have a comprehensive catalog of all of our holdings.

Advanced search screen from the Library of Congress Online Catalog (screen captured on May 22, 2019)

Get in touch!

If you can't find a film or broadcast in the online catalog, that doesn't mean we don't have it. The Library has several onsite indexes, card catalogs, and internal databases that are not searchable online. Reference librarians in the Moving Image Research Center are always happy to help locate materials. Submit a question through Ask-a-Librarian, or see additional contact information in the link below:

Finding Aids

A number of Finding Aids are available online at the link below, and many more are available by contacting our reference librarians.

Many of these Research Guides will provide access to Finding Aids created by Library staff throughout the years. These Finding Aids range in magnitude from lists of titles to robust collection descriptions.

Many of the Finding Aids contain film citations that provide bibliographic information about the film, including production information, a physical description, a summary and notes, as well as shelf or call number. The format of film citations will differ throughout finding aids, but will have some common features. The following is a sample of a typical film citation:

ALICE THE TOREADOR. (1924) (Title/Date)
FAB 1199 (Shelf or call #)
AFI/ Marshall (George) Collection (Donor/Collection) 
16mm ref. print (225 ft.): b&w. (Physical description) 
Series: Alice Comedies
Prod. Co. & Dist.: M.J. Winkler Productions. 
Animator: Walt Disney
*Summary: The antics of a live-action girl in an animated account of the girl's adventures with a tame steer in a bull ring.
**Note: End title lacking. Combination animation and live action.

* Plot summaries are provided either from secondary sources or personal viewings.
** The note field contains information about copyright, reissues, missing or added footage, and incomplete copies.


Published Collection Catalogs

Full-text copies of our four published catalogs can be found on the Hathi Trust Digital Library: