C-SPAN, the cable network that covers Congress and public policy in Washington and around the country, now gives you free online access to its video dating back to 1987 with its new Video Library. Here's a crash course in searching C-SPAN's treasure trove of modern American politics.
Step 1: Conduct a simple search Type a person's name or a topic into the Search box on the C-SPAN video library's home page. Use quotation marks if you know the person's first and last name, or if the subject you're looking for is a phrase: it helps pinpoint your results.
TIP: If you're only looking for House or Senate floor debates, click on "Congress" to search the Congressional Chronicle.
Step 2: Check out search results Check out the search results, organized by Person, Program, and Transcript. Clicking on Person takes you to their Video Library biography page, which lists all their C-SPAN video appearances by year. Program results list C-SPAN videos that contain your search term in their titles, summaries, or other fields. Transcripts feature results in which your search term appears in the actual text of a program's transcript.
TIP: When you click on a Transcript result, you're taken right to the specific part of the video that contains your search term.
Step 3: Narrow your search If you haven’t gotten the search results you expected, use the tools shown on the left-hand side of the page to focus further. Specify a date or time period, and leave only the topics and categories that interest you checked off.
Step 4: Search more than one name or phrase You can also search a name and a topic or phrase to find out who said what about a subject you're interested in.
Step 5: Do an Advanced Search For even more targeted results, conduct an Advanced Search; use the All Fields drop-down menu on the left to choose which fields to search. You can even search 2 or more of the same fields at once.
Step 6: Use and enjoy Whether you're looking for a national event that happened yesterday, or want historical context from 20 years ago, with the C-SPAN Video Library's powerful search tools and extensive database, you'll find what you're looking for in minutes. It's never been easier to connect to Washington, your way.
FACT: The C-SPAN Video Library contains more than 400 speeches by Supreme Court justices.