January 18, 2022

Learn About: The Congressional Quarterly Photograph Collection, Some Material Available Online From LC

Note: A portion of the material in this collection has been digitized and is available online. Details at the bottom of this post.

From the Library of Congress “Picture This” Blog:

The recent organization and cataloging of the more than 90,000 black-and-white and color images in the Congressional Quarterly Photograph Collection enables researchers to explore U.S. Congressional activities as well as a variety of governmental initiatives, policy issues, and Capitol Hill neighborhood doings. The photos date primarily from 1988 to 2005 and were created by photographers working for Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report. This collection is a companion to the Roll Call Photograph Collection, which was cataloged a few years ago.


The format of the photos in the collection can help you see how photographers approached their subjects, providing  insights on the goals and challenges of photographing governmental activities—or any activities, for that matter. That’s because you can see the full sequence of images photographers took. The majority of the collection consists of black-and-white negatives, which on-site researchers can look at in the form of contact sheets – entire rolls of 35 mm film contact printed on sheets of photographic paper.

Even more readily accessible are the digitized strips of color negatives.  The reversal of colors and overall orange tint in color negatives makes them very hard to read in their original format. For example, what is blue in the real world appears as yellow in a color negative. An innovative use of a flatbed scanner made it possible to create ‘quick reference scans’ that represent the 5,100 strips of 35mm film in recognizable colors and provide legible access to that portion of the collection.  What strikes me when I look at these still images is how the photographers’ practice of taking several pictures in quick succession offers an almost motion picture-like glimpse of actions and interactions in progress.  We invite you to try this online viewing experience to see if it strikes you the same way.

Source: Library of Congress



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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.