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The National Broadcasting Company at the Library of Congress

Using the NBC Collection Materials

There are several ways to access the NBC materials in the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Sections. Read on to learn about where to search, and pick up some strategies to help you find what you're looking for. Specific guidelines and policies for conducting research in the Recorded Sound and Moving Image Research Centers are included in the "Listening and Viewing Procedures" section of this guide. General information about "Using the Library of Congress" is also included in a separate section.

Where to Search

Most of the NBC radio recordings in the collections of the Library of Congress have been cataloged in the Recorded Sound Section's SONIC catalog of broadcast and master recordings, and this is where researchers should begin searching for NBC radio material. Over 2000 NBC radio broadcasts are also listed in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. The NBC recordings in the Online Catalog include items donated to the Library of Congress by private collectors, performing artists, recording studios, broadcasts purchased from NBC before the Library acquired the NBC collection, and performances released on commercial record labels or rebroadcast by the US government. The Online Catalog is also where to search for NBC television broadcasts.

NOTE: In addition to SONIC and the Online Catalog, the division has several internal databases in which NBC television and radio programs are cataloged. Meet the Press programs are the subject of one of these databases. Another database, MAVIS, contains both moving image and recorded sound materials, including NBC radio and television broadcasts. These databases are only available in the Research Centers.

While listening to or viewing NBC broadcasts requires advance notice, there are a number of NBC resources available for more immediate use in the Research Centers, including:

  • Television Program Analysis Files (on microfiche)
  • NBC radio Index Card Catalog 
  • Logs/traffic sheets and master books
  • Press releases
  • NBC History Files
  • Meet the Press transcriptions
  • Onsite databases, including MAVIS and the database of Meet the Press holdings

Library of Congress Online Catalog

In the Library of Congress Online Catalog, Advanced Search is the quickest way to access sound recordings and moving image materials.

On the Advanced Search Screen, include "recording" in one of the keyword fields to limit your results to only sound recordings, or "movingim" to limit your results to only moving image materials. If "movingim" doesn't return many results, try "motion picture" too.

Sound Online Inventory Catalog (SONIC)

SONIC offers several kinds of searches. You can search by name, title, or subject, and by keyword. There are also special search screens that limit your search to radio broadcasts only.

A Keyword Anywhere search will return records that contain your search terms anywhere in the record. You can search two terms or phrases using Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), and limit by date.
  • While both of the catalogs above offer some subject access, it is usually more effective to search by title, date, or performer.
  • Many performers are not listed in our records for radio broadcasts, and while it is always worth trying to search a performer's name, the specific program title and a date are often more useful for locating broadcasts. Often news broadcasts have very generic titles and our cataloging rarely includes information about the specific stories covered on a broadcast for a given day.
  • Form and genre terms may assist you when searching by subject. See our guide to those terms at the link below:

Get in Touch

If you can't find what you're looking for using SONIC or the Online Catalog, we may still have it. It's important to remember that a portion of our collections are not fully cataloged and searchable online, so always contact the Recorded Sound or Moving Image Research Center reference librarians if searching the catalogs doesn't yield any results. The Library has several onsite indexes, card catalogs, and internal databases that are not searchable online. The reference librarians in the research centers are always happy to help locate materials. Submit a question through Ask-a-Librarian or see more contact information in the links below: