6 media archives to boost your research

Home Blog 6 media archives to boost your research

Researchers sometimes get in the habit of sticking to their go-to sources. For that reason, it’s always a refreshing discovery to find a new source to get you out of your routine. These six sites below will add new treasure troves to broaden the range of your research.

We’re professional researchers who free up the time of companies and individuals by doing complex research projects for them, so we don’t make these recommendations unless we know they’re superb. We rely on these websites and love exploring them, and we know you will too.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame music archives

You don’t have to make a trip to Cleveland and visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives to benefit from its vast library of materials. The Rock Hall has just about everything you can imagine that’s related to the artists and music legacies it safeguards (which includes many more music genres than just rock and roll):

  • Documents
  • Images
  • Recordings
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • CDs
  • Digitized content taken from historically significant home video recordings made on 8mm film, Super 8mm film, 16mm film, Super 16mm film, Betacam, Digital8, VHS and many other formats. (This gives you a sense of how thoroughly they are preserving old footage from artists, fans and collectors.)

Its sources for the above include:

  • The artists
  • Music executives fans
  • The Rock Hall itself

Two primary search boxes at the top of the library archive page allow you to either search all documents, images or recordings contained in the Rock Hall archive or you can search books, magazines, CDs and DVDs in the Rock Hall.

Another option is to click “browse here” at the top of the Home page (next to the first search box) and use drop- down menus to peruse collections, artists by name, subjects, genres and other identifiers.

Bottom-line: Rock Hall has created a stunning digital archive of modern music’s history.

Film Struck for old movies

The subscription site Film Struck has a well-rounded library, carefully curated, filled with old movies of every genre from the best classics to the most obscure films. It uses a paid subscription with three tiers of payment plans starting at $6.99, but there is a free trial plan and a 35% discount for students.

You can search for films by film title, actor, or director. It also has some intriguing staff-curated categories such as:

  • Iconic Films From the Golden Age of Hollywood Starring Sophia Loren
  • Eighties Fantasies
  • Directed by John Huston
  • Love on the Lam
  • Fathers and Sons

Those are just a handful of collections available. The Film Struck archive seems bottomless the more you explore their vaults.

 UCLA’s TV and film archives

The UCLA Film and Television Archive, founded in 1965, has a staggering volume of materials available for research (some of which is available to stream online for free).

To give you a sense of the scope, their Researched at ARSC page lists major projects that have used the Archive for its research.

Their sophisticated search page allows you to search materials by title, film credits (that’s right, you can search for specific names mentioned in film credits), inventory numbers and many more options.

Some of the titles you can stream online for free include:

  • U.S. Steel Hour
  • UCLA KTLA News Project
  • The Goldbergs on the Radio L.A. Rebellion
  • Restored Silent Animation
  • The Archive’s YouTube Channel

Radio and recorded sound (US and UK collections)

There are two excellent sources for radio and recorded, one maintained by the US government, the other by the UK.

The Recorded Sound Research Center is possible the best archive of American recordings in the world, as it explains on its page:

The Recorded Sound Research Center provides access to the commercial and archival audio holdings of the Library of Congress. The collection dates from 1926 when Victor Records donated over 400 discs to the Library’s Music Division to supplement its print and manuscript holdings. In the custody of the Motion Picture Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division since 1978, the collection has grown to include over 2 million items encompassing audio formats from cylinders to CDs. The holdings complement the field recordings of the American Folklife Center and the moving image collections served in the Moving Image Research Center.


If you go to the “What’s Online” section in the bottom left of the home page, you’ll see a list of collections available to stream online, including:

  • Tony Schwartz Collection
  • WWOZ Collection
  • Recordings Available Online
  • Ordering Poetry Recordings

The Recordings Available Online page is especially valuable. It gives free access to over 20 collections of archives filled with hours upon hours of material covering more than a century of American recordings.

The United Kingdom’s version of the US archive, the British Library, is also a rich resource of radio and recorded sound. It has a large number of archives filled with recordings covering much of modern British history and culture.

The Newspaper Archive

If you’re looking for information from newspapers, the Newspaper Archive allows you to search a database of digitized newspapers ranging from 1607 to 2017. You can search by:

  • Country
  • State
  • City
  • Newspaper
  • Year
  • Month

It is not free, unfortunately. Some pages on its site can be accessed without paying, but most of the content can only be seen if you’re a subscribing member. The cost is $49.95 every six months. This is not a bad deal considering the size of the database they have.

The double-edged sword of premium archives

There’s something truly wonderful about world-class archives making their content available to anyone through the internet. Although it is one of the great benefits of the modern technological age, it can also be one of the most overwhelming features of it. A researcher can easily succumb to paralysis by an infinite number of choices. It can also be time-consuming searching such vast archives.

For these reasons, you may want to consider enlisting the help of a professional research service such as LAC Group. We can do the research for you and free up your time.

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