Skip to Main Content

Politics and Public Affairs on Film, Television, and Radio

Moving Image Resources

Politicians and public figures have long been the subject of film and television, from the earliest motion pictures to the present day. Now more than ever, media such as film, television, and streaming video provide us with access to our national leaders, cultural icons, and other newsmakers. The Moving Image Section has been collecting film and television formats for over 100 years—naturally our holdings provide access to materials that document the lives and careers of politicians and other public figures.

This section covers a broad swath of moving image holdings, drawing together materials on current events, news, public discourse and debate, politics, and government, as well as guidance for searching our collections. Some featured digital and prominent physical moving image collections are highlighted below:

Featured video from this collection:

Featured video from this collection:

Featured video from this collection:

SEARCH TIP: Use the access levels along the top of your search results to view more or fewer results based on digital availability. "Available Online" means the video and audio in your results can be streamed anywhere. "All Digitized" means that your search results include digitized content that may not be available outside the Library. "All Records" will show you all materials in the Archive that match your search term - even items that aren't digitized.

Meet the Press, the NBC News program that is still going strong today, began on the radio in 1945. Martha Rountree (1911-1999), a pioneer of broadcast journalism, was one of the creators of the program and its moderator until 1953. Lawrence E. Spivak, Rountree's co-creator, served as a weekly panelist and moderated the program from 1966 to 1975. Meet the Press moved to television in 1947 and is currently the longest-running program in television history. As with its first incarnation on the radio, Meet the Press on television features political leaders and major cultural figures answering questions posed by a moderator and panel of interviewers. Although the structure of the program has changed since its creation in the 1940s, Meet the Press remains an in-depth look at major events and news stories. Guests include congressmen and women, presidential candidates, foreign leaders, every US president since Kennedy (although not necessarily during their presidencies), diplomats, lawyers, journalists, activists, religious leaders, civil rights leaders, authors, scientists, and businesspeople. The Moving Image Section holds television broadcasts of Meet the Press from 1950 to the 2000s. Audio of the earliest Meet the Press television programs is available. See the Meet the Press tab of the "Featured Collections and Programs" section on the Recorded Sound page of this Guide for more information. Transcripts for programs between 1954 and 1984 are available in the Moving Image Research Center.

SEARCH TIP: In the Library of Congress Online Catalog, search "Meet the Press" in the Advanced Search screen as a phrase by selecting that option from the drop-down menu to the right of each search box. You may also want to use "NBC" as a keyword in another search box. Don't forget to use the special keyword "movingim" in one of the search boxes to limit your results to moving image materials.

Finding Aids

James Kavallines, photographer. [Behind the camera during filming at a CBS news desk, map of New England in background]. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

The Moving Image Research Center has a number of finding aids and collection guides available on our website, and many more are available from reference librarians. Contact the Moving Image Research Center for finding aids and title lists for the following political topics:

  • Presidential inaugurations: Footage of inaugurations from William McKinley to the present day
  • Civil Rights: Television news programs as well as films about civil rights and race relations in our collections
  • Films of the House and Senate: An annotated list of fiction, documentary films, and television that deal substantially with the House of Representatives or the Senate; this list was assembled in 1988 and has not been updated
  • Joseph McCarthy/Communism and the Army-McCarthy Hearings: Broadcast and press appearances, news programs, documentaries, and holdings of the Army-McCarthy hearings in our collections.
  • Political conventions: Footage of Democratic and Republican National Conventions

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:

Search Hints

  • It's generally easiest to find items 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.
  • Subject headings, or form and genre terms, are also useful in tracking down moving images. From the Online Catalog's Browse Search, select SUBJECTS beginning with and try searching "News--television." You'll find a few subjects that are relevant, including "News--television series," "News--television special," and "Television news programs."
  • Check our Finding Aids. A number of these Finding Aids are available online at the link below, and many more are available by contacting our reference librarians.

Suggestions for Searching Specific Topics

Political and public affairs topics can be found using the search strategies outlined below:

  • State of the Union Addresses: Search "State of the Union" as a phrase
  • Political advertising: Search "Political spots" as a phrase
  • Election coverage: Search "Election night" as a phrase
  • News broadcasts from major networks: Search network names (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN) and "news"
  • Legislative Branch: Search "House of Representatives" or "Senate" for news coverage, documentaries, floor proceedings, and more
  • U.S. House of Representatives Collection: Search "House of Representatives" or "Senate" for news coverage, documentaries, floor proceedings, and more (The Library of Congress holds video of the House of Representatives floor proceedings beginning in 1979.)
  • U.S. Senate Collection: Search "Senate sessions" in the Online Catalog (The Library of Congress holds video of Senate floor proceedings. The Senate sessions begin in 1986.)

Published Collection Catalogs

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

More Resources for Moving Images

The following published guide outlines the Library's television holdings acquired between 1949 and 1979:

The Moving Image Section also holds collections that are related to politics and news topics, including collections from individuals and legislative bodies. The following have collection-level catalog records--get in touch with Moving Image reference librarians to learn more! See more collections in the "Featured" section below.

Another useful resource available in the Moving Image Research Center is:

Subscription Resource

Even more resources are available in the Moving Image Research Center. These include research databases, books, card catalogs, microfilm and microfiche, subject files, and other print resources. Of particular note is the Vanderbilt Television News Archive, linked below.

The subscription resource marked with a padlock are available to researchers on-site at the Library of Congress. If you are unable to visit the Library, you may be able to access these resources through your local public or academic library.

More Online Resources

For a comprehensive set of useful online resources, institutions, and information related to the subjects of film and television, with links, see this list on the Moving Image Research Center website: