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Researching LC Moving Image Holdings

Most of our films and videos have not been fully cataloged and are therefore accessible primarily by title. Identifying films and videos by subject requires a variety of strategies, such as keyword searching of our various databases and manual card files (including LC's online catalog) and compiling title lists from secondary reference sources. Since our staff cannot perform this time-consuming subject research for archival/stock footage requests, a personal visit to the Library is often required. Another option is to hire a freelance researcher. A list of freelance researchers in the Washington, DC area is available upon request.

A significant portion of our holdings appear only in manual title card catalogs. For assistance in identifying titles that do not appear online, contact the reference staff.

The Library of Congress Online Catalog

Although the Online Catalog is not a comprehensive database of our moving image holdings, it is possible to selectively retrieve cataloging records for film and video materials. To do so:

  1. Set Search Limits button available at Basic Search or Guided Search.
  2. Choose the ‘Location' limit.
  3. Select ‘Motion Picture & Television'.

Guided Search example:
Search: cbs evening news 1993 [ all of these ] As: [ Title: All (KTIL) ]

For some searches you may prefer to use the term ‘movingim' in each search statement instead of setting a search limit.

Guided Search example:
Search: detroit movingim [ all of these ] As: [ Keyword Anywhere (GKEY) ]

Both of these search strategies will exclude the retrieval of pre-1972 cataloging record since pre-MARC records do not identify moving image material by location. To retrieve pre-MARC records, substitute the term ‘motion picture' for ‘movingim.' This method will not be sucessful if the 'Location' limit is not cleared. (Holdings information is not available in pre-MARC cataloging records.)

Guided Search example:
Search: detroit motion picture [ all of these ] As: [ Keyword Anywhere (GKEY) ]

Not all of the films and videos listed in the Online Catalog are available for viewing at the Library. Access copies are identified by the designation ref print or viewing copy, which appears in parentheses following the call number. For further information of the availability of non-access copies (e.g. master, neg, arch pos), contact the reference staff. See Viewing Guidelines for information on making appointments.

American Memory

The American Memory Historical Collections are multimedia collections of digitized documents, photographs, recorded sound, moving pictures and text from the Library's Americana collections. Currently, there are over 700 early actuality and fiction films available for viewing and downloading from the website. Bibliographic records, including detailed descriptions of each film, can be searched by keywords or subject headings. Broadcast quality copies are also available for purchase, see Obtaining Copies of American Memory Films Collection Materials.

Resource Guides and Finding Aids

Full-text copies to several resource guides and finding aids, including American Indians in Silent Film and Jazz on Film and Video in the Library of Congress, can be accessed at our reading room website.

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  April 28, 2016
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