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Television, radio and documentary film

Primary sources for historical research

Audio & video archives online

American History in Video
Digital collection of newsreels from 1942-1964, plus television documentaries from the History Channel and elsewhere. Includes transcripts.

World History in Video
Digital collection of BBC, PBS and independent documentaries covering world history. Includes transcripts.

Vanderbilt University Television News Archive
Index to the most extensive and complete archive of television news. A substantial amount of content is available online, and Princeton students & faculty can order clips through interlibrary loan.

The HistoryMakers

Oral history interviews with more than 1,600 historically significant African Americans in fields such as the arts, business, education, entertainment, the law, the military, politics, religion, and science.


American Archive of Public Broadcasting

Internet Archive: Moving Image Archiveaccess to a YouTube channel with extensive footage of 20th century events

Library of Congress Motion Picture and Television Reading Room
Includes several collections of digitized documentary film.

Google Videos (includes video from the US National Archives)

C-SPAN Video Library
Includes every C-SPAN program aired since 1987. Particularly valuable for coverage of Congress, including video of congressional hearings.

Mix of free and fee-based content. Includes some TV shows from the 1950s onwards.

You never know what you can find -- or how long it will be available. But definitely worth searching.

WGBH Open Vault
Content originally broadcast by the Boston public television station, WGBH.

AP Video Archive Access to a YouTube channel with extensive footage of 20th century events

Civil Rights Digital Library  news film from the WSB (Atlanta) and WALB (Albany, Ga.) television archives 

Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection   radio programming from the beginning of the medium  to the present day 


Museums and research collections

National Archives
National Archives multimedia collections include nearly 300,000 reels of motion picture film and more than 200,000 sound and video recordings, which can be consulted in the Motion Picture, Sound and Video Research Room at the National Archives facility in College Park, MD.

Museum of Broadcast Communication (Chicago)
Covers both radio & TV.

Paley Center (formerly the Museum of Television and Radio, New York City)

Museum and online exhibits, but no access to collections for researchers.

UCLA Film and Television Archive

Peabody Awards Collections
Now in the Walter J. Brown Media Archives at the University of Georgia, this very large collection of radio and television broadcasts must be consulted on site and does not circulate through interlibrary loan.

Library of American Broadcasting and other media archives at the University of Maryland

Mass Communications History Collections at the Wisconsin Historical Society
At the Wisconsin Historical Society. See also Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research. These collections emphasize film and TV for entertainment, not documentary film.

United Kingdom

BBC Archives
Online archives unfortunately are viewable only in the UK. See

British Film Institute
See also

National Archives (UK): Public Information Films

Reference: archives directories

National Film Preservation Board: Public Moving Image Archives and Research Centers (directory of moving image archives, arranged geographically by U.S. state and by country)

A resource guide to the golden age of radio: special collections, bibliography and the Internet. Susan and David S. Siegel. Yorktown Heights, NY : Book Hunter Press, c2006.
Firestone Library: Non Circulating (Fnc) PN1991.2 .S56 2006
Covers the 1920s to the 1960s in the U.S. Lists radio-related collections in libraries and archives. Indexed by topic, station and program.

Film and television collections in Europe: the MAP-TV guide. Edited by Daniela Kirchner ; produced by MAP-TV, an initiative of the MEDIA Programme of the European Union; sponsored by MEDIA, with support from Eureka Audiovisuel. London; New York: Blueprint, 1995.
Firestone PN1998.A1 F4815 1995
Arranged by country, with useful introductory essays.

World directory of moving image and sound archives. Edited by Wolfgang Klaue. Mùˆnchen ; New Providence : K.G. Saur, 1993.
Annex A, Forrestal (TEMP): PN1993.4 .W68 1993

The researcher’s guide: film, television, radio and related documentation collections in the UK. Editor Sergio Angelini. 7th ed. London: British Universities Film & Video Council, 2006.
Firestone Library (F) PN1993.4 .R47 2006