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The National Broadcasting Company at the Library of Congress

NBC Television Broadcasts

The NBC television broadcasts cover a wide range of NBC's activities throughout the 20th century, from news coverage of political and current events to sports, comedy, music, and other forms of entertainment. Read on to learn more about the programs in the collection. The next section of this guide covers manuscript materials available for use in the Moving Image Research Center.

About the Television Broadcast Collection

Reni Newsphoto Service. [Mike Di Salle and group in front of NBC television camera]. Theodore Granik Collection, Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Acquired in July 1986, this is a historic collection of 18,000 television programs broadcast, preserved and mostly produced by NBC. With programs dating from the beginning of network television in the United States (1948) through 1977, the NBC Television Collection includes performances by major actors and musical talents, as well as numerous events featuring significant individuals in public affairs. It also includes programs from the late 1940s and early 1950s, and genres such as sports, game shows, children's programs and daytime television. 

The collection, beginning in the presidency of Harry Truman, covers the eras of Eleanor Roosevelt, the Korean War, Joseph McCarthy, Nikita Krushchev, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Vietnam War, and the first space shots. There is full coverage of the administrations of Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy (including all of the Kennedy press conferences), Johnson, and Nixon, as well as the national conventions and elections in that period. The great comedians of the years of "live TV" (1948-1960) are represented, including Jack Benny, Steve Allen, Jimmy Durante, Ed Wynn, Ernie Kovacs, Fred Allen, Bert Lahr, Groucho Marx, Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Milton Berle, Bob Hope, and Eddie Cantor. Among the concert artists are Arturo Toscanini, Jascha Heifetz, Ezio Pinza, Richard Tucker, and Joan Sutherland. Popular music stars include Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, Ethel Merman, Gene Kelly, Mary Martin, Dinah Shore, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Julie Andrews, Harry Belafonte, and many more.

The NBC Television Collection covers programs through the late 1970s. More recent NBC programs can be found throughout the Library's moving image holdings, particularly in the Copyright Collection, which consists of film and television deposited at the Library of Congress to fulfill copyright requirements. NBC television material, both inside and outside the bounds of the NBC Television Collection, can be searched in the Library's Online Catalog.

NOTE: Not all of the television and film materials we have (including NBC items) are searchable in the Online Catalog. Our on-site database offers even more access to NBC television broadcasts, but can only be searched in the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Research Centers. If you can't find the television program you're looking for in the Online Catalog, get in touch with the Moving Image Research Center. Reference staff are always happy to search on-site databases and help locate materials.

ALSO NOTE: The majority of the NBC Television Collection is comprised of kinescopes; mostly picture negatives with separate sound tracks.  Given enough lead time, researchers may request that digital viewing copies of the kinescopes be created for on-site access only. Requests for purchase or reuse of material in the NBC Collection must be made directly to NBC.

Television Programs in the Collection

Television programs in the collection include, among many others:

  • News & Public Affairs: NBC Evening News; Pressman-Ryan Report; WNBC Radio News; WNBC-TV 6th Hour News; Wide Wide World; Today Show; Meet the Press; NBC News Documentaries as well as specials and "white papers"
  • Talk Shows: Dr. Spock; Tonight Show
  • Music, Variety & Comedy: NBC Symphony; Arthur Murray Party; Bob Newhart Show (1961 variety series); Bob Hope; Colgate Comedy Hour; Texaco Star Theater; Your Show of Shows/Saturday Night Revue; Caesar's Hour; Kate Smith (Evening) Hour; Lux Video Theatre/The Lux Show Starring Rosemary Clooney; The Dinah Shore Show; Sing Along with Mitch; Sammy Davis Jr. Show; George Gobel Show
  • Game Shows: Let's Make a Deal; Concentration; Feather Your Nest; Play Your Hunch; Your First Impression; GE College Bowl
  • Drama, Mystery, & Cultural Programming (non-music): NBC Matinee Theater; Chevy Mystery; NBC Experiment in Television
  • Soaps: Modern Romances
  • Sports: NBC Sports in Action; NBC Sports Special; 1964 Summer Olympics; football, golf, bowling championships
  • Children: The Shari Lewis Show; Kukla, Fran, and Ollie; 1, 2, 3, Go!; Pip the Piper
  • Religious: Catholic Hour; Frontiers of Faith; The Eternal Light
  • Special Events: Political conventions; Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parades; Christmas at Rockefeller Center; Miss America Pageants; Academy and Emmy Awards