Monday, August 17, 2015

Video Resources That Can Help You With Your Legislative Research

Many researchers who visit the State Library for legislative research purposes also inquire about
videos of executive branch coverage or legislative proceedings.  Here are some recommendations that we at the library have found to be particularly helpful over the years.

State Library’s House and Senate Floor Session Video Collection
Allowing my bias to take the reins, I will first mention the library’s videotape collection of House and Senate floor sessions (i.e. debates).   Housed in our Special Collections Dept. (Room 55 of the State House), the collection goes as far back as November of 1987 when the library began receiving copies of these videos.  Important to note is that from 1987 to 1993 the videos are that of the House only.  In addition to floor sessions, the collection also contains a handful of committee hearings.  Knowing if it’s House or Senate you want to see, and a specific date, is most helpful for our librarians when requesting video availability.  Our videos must be viewed on site, and copies cannot be produced by the library.  If you have any questions about our video collection, you can contact our Special Collections Department at 617-727-2595, or by email at

Massachusetts House and Senate Broadcasts:
This website provides “access to live gavel-to-gavel proceedings” of the legislature.  There is also an archive of videos, going back as far as January of 2007.  The types of videos you will find here include committee hearings, formal House sessions, Senate sessions, Joint sessions, and other events (ex. inaugural addresses, roundtables, etc.)  You can search by exact date or date range, by keyword, or you can browse the list by clicking “List all archived events.”

The Massachusetts Legislature’s Website: 
The legislature’s website allows users to search its “Events Archives,” which includes House, Senate, and joint sessions, committee hearings, and other special events.  The archive goes back as far as April of 2007, but it’s important to remember that not every event listed in the archive has a video.  If a particular event had a video available, a green video camera icon will appear to the right of the event name.  Users can search for an event by exact date or date range, or by keyword.

State House News Service:
SHNS is an independent, subscription-based wire service that covers the activities of the state’s government year-round.  Their multimedia content includes videos of interviews and events, as well as audio recordings, organized by date, of House and Senate sessions.  Patrons of the State Library can access SHNS onsite in the library.

Boston TV News Digital Library:
This website is an archive of news content produced by a number of Boston-area TV news programs, and covers the years 1960 through 2000.  Users can search the collections through a general keyword search that, when submitted and results are yielded, allows for additional filters (collection, places, date).  Videos (including interviews) of governors, legislators, and committee hearings, and various other institutions and events can be found within this digital library.

C-Span Video Library:
C-Span focuses on televising the proceedings of the federal government, but other public affairs programming is available in their online video archive.  Videos can be searched by typing in a keyword in the search bar near the top of the home page, and also by choosing “videos” from the drop down menu to the left of the bar.  For example, searching “Charlie Baker” (with quotes) yields 10 results, including press conferences and gubernatorial campaign coverage.  Once results are yielded, users can narrow down their topic with a variety of additional filters.

Almost everyone is familiar with YouTube, but it’s often overlooked as a resource for legislative proceedings or executive branch coverage.  While the videos are not as organized or curated in the same way as the above mentioned websites, the benefit is that you can cast a wide net and discover videos that you may not find anywhere else.  For example, if you search for “Massachusetts legislature” hearing, various videos of committee hearings and testimony are among the list of results.

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department