Researching LC Moving Image Holdings
The Library of Congress holds one of the largest collections of moving image material in the world. Acquired primarily through copyright deposit, exchange, gift, and purchase, the collection spans nearly the entire history of cinema and television and contains approximately 1.2 million items. The Moving Image Research Center is your point of access to these holdings.
Locating Moving Image Materials in the Collection
Please note when searching for moving image materials in the Library of Congress that subject is not our primary point of access. Most films, videos, and DVDs in our collection have not been fully cataloged, therefore TITLE is our primary mode of access. In addition, there is no comprehensive catalog for our holdings. Searching for moving image material in the Library of Congress may involve the use of one or more of the following resources:
Library of Congress Online Catalog
Merged Audiovisual Information System (MAVIS)
Published Catalog, Finding Aids, and Collection Inventories
To search the online catalog for moving image materials, you can use the BROWSE, ADVANCED SEARCH or KEYWORD search functions. All searches allow you to apply limits, but only the advanced search page provides multiple search fields.
SET SEARCH LIMITS
To set search limits on the BROWSE, ADVANCED SEARCH or KEYWORD search pages, click ADD LIMITS. Under LOCATION IN THE LIBRARY, select MOTION PICTURE & TELEVISION.
You can also limit your search by format. Under TYPE OF MATERIAL select FILM OR VIDEO.
Instead of setting search limits, you may want to use the keyword MOVINGIM in your search statements which will also limit the results to films, videos, and DVDs only.
Please note that neither the SET SEARCH LIMIT function nor the use of the MOVINGIM keyword will retrieve pre-1972 cataloging records since pre-MARC records do not identify moving image material by location. To retrieve pre-MARC records, substitute the term MOTION PICTURE for MOVINGIM.
MAVIS is an internal database that can only be accessed in the Moving Image Research Center at the Library of Congress; it does not have an online public interface. MAVIS was designed for the processing and management of audiovisual collections. This means that the database contains more physical information about an object than bibliographic information.
There is no definable difference between the items contained in the online catalog and the items contained in MAVIS. If you are unable to locate a title in the online catalog, contact the Moving Image Research Center and we will search MAVIS for you.
Yes! We still utilize card catalogs in our research room. The cards are organized by title. The production of new catalog cards ended in the late 1980s with the evolution of the online catalog. If you are unable to locate a title in the online catalog or see the phrase ‘holdings information not available”, please contact the Moving Image Research Center and we will search the card catalogs for you.
Our collection of published catalogs, finding aids and collection inventories cover numerous subjects. Several of these finding aids can be found on our website at http://www.loc.gov/rr/mopic/findaid/mpfind.html.
Full-text copies of our four published catalogs can be found on the Hathi Trust website:
Early Motion Pictures: The Paper Print Collection in the Library of Congress by Kemp Niver (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1985).
Describes approximately 3,000 films made between 1894 and 1915. Some libraries may only have the previous edition: Motion Pictures from the Library of Congress Paper Print Collection, 1894-1912 (Berkeley: University of California Press,1967).
The George Kleine Collection of Early Motion Pictures in the Library of Congress: A Catalog (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1980).
Describes 456 motion pictures produced between 1898 and 1926.
The Theodore Roosevelt Association Film Collection: A Catalog (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1986).
Describes 318 films relating to the life and career of Theodore Roosevelt.
Three Decades of Television: A Catalog of Television Programs Acquired by the Library of Congress 1949-1979, compiled by Sarah Rouse and Katharine Loughney. (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1989).
This catalog cites over 14,000 broadcasts acquired between 1949-1979. Programs include series, serials, tele-features, specials and documentaries; daytime and prime-time programs; local, network, DuMont, and syndicated broadcasts; and educational material. Full-Text
Finally, we have a number of finding aids and collection inventories that are not currently available online, but may be requested by contacting the reference staff. Subjects include World War I, Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights on TV, Women’s Suffrage, among others. For additional information, please contact the Moving Image Research Center.