American Politics Collection


Extent: 800 videotapes

Dates: 1971–2016

Description: A diverse set of materials, documenting the major presidential campaigns and elections, Illinois House and Senate, and Chicago politics. Featuring every Chicago mayor since Richard J. Daley, as well as extensive footage of city council members, it’s an eye opening picture of how politics really works in Chicago. The Media Burn collection covers the lasting cultural impact of the 1968 Democratic National Convention and Chicago Conspiracy trial, and the Chicagoans who have shaped public policy locally and nationally, such as David Axelrod, the Daley family, and Rahm Emanuel.

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1992 Presidential Election Collection

Extent: 250 videotapes

Dates: 1992

Description: Preserved through funding by the federal “Save America’s Treasures” program as a crucial record of American history and democracy. More than 500 hours of footage documenting all the candidates, including Bill Clinton, Paul Tsongas, Jerry Brown, George H.W. Bush, and Ross Perot, as well as the role of the press in American elections. Shot for the award-winning national PBS series THE 90’s.



Chicago Politics Collection

Extent: 150 videotapes

Dates: 1976–2016

Description: Footage of some of Chicago’s most prominent leaders and activists of the last forty years. Videos range from in depth and candid interviews to raw footage of rallys, public protests, and electiont coverage. Collection includes footage of Mayors Harold Washington, Jane Byrne, and both Daleys, as well as Barack Obama, Dan Rostenkowski, and Vito Marzullo.



Harold Washington Collection

Extent: 88 videotapes and files

Dates: 1980–1987

Description: Harold Washington’s time in office was relatively brief, but he still continues to hold a memorable place in our political history, as the first African-American mayor of Chicago. This collection includes footage of Harold Washington in action, both his fiery speeches on the campaign trail and in office, going up against “The Eddies” during the Council Wars, as well as a host of interviews with people throughout the Chicago community, talking about working with him, his influence, his time as mayor, and the loss felt at his early passing.



Rostenkowski Collection

Extent: 50 videotapes

Dates: 1980–1994

Description: Ever wondered what really goes on behind closed doors in Congress? Cameras would never be permitted in closed door meetings today, but in 1981, we managed to shoot a rare peek at an orientation for newly elected House Democrats (including Harold Washington). In it, Majority Whip Dan Rostenkowski, with his typical tell-it-like-it-is attitude, explains to the freshmen how things are really done in D.C. It’s part of the excellent documentary Rostenkowski, shot when the Ilinois Congressman had just been elevated to Chairman of Ways and Means. Shot both in Washington and the near west side of Chicago, these tapes demonstrate the power of the Democratic Party in Chicago and document the peculiarities of the Congress. This collection of footage was digitized through the support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.



Vito Marzullo Collection

Extent: 42 videotapes

Dates: 1977–1978

Description: Tom Weinburg’s Vito Marzullo is a portrait of Chicago’s 25th Ward Alderman Vito Marzullo, who is described as “the last of the old time machine politicians.” It chronicles the workings of Marzullo’s ward, Chicago’s City Hall, and politics in general within the Chicago Democratic “machine.” This piece and the 14.5 hours of raw footage also provide insight into Marzullo’s family life with his wife of 65 years, Letiza.



None of the Above

Extent: 100 videotapes

Dates: 1996

Description: 40% of Americans do not vote in national elections. This 1996 project to investigate the phenomenon of non-voters was conducted in collaboration with Professor Ellen Shearer of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Approximately a dozen non-voters from around the country were selected for in-depth documentary profiles. The program also featured political analyst David Axelrod, Senator Paul Simon, and journalist John Callaway. The 90-minute edited program aired on public television. The 100 hours of camera original footage holds incredible significance for public policy, sociology, urban studies, rural studies, African-American studies, and psychology researchers to learn about the significant numbers of people who do not participate in the American electoral system.



Outsider Agitators Collection

Extent: 200 videotapes

Dates: 1972–2016

Description: Footage documenting activists and outsiders, such as Abbie Hoffman, Rennie Davis, Fred Hampton, Paul Krassner, Stewart Brand, Tulli Kupferberg, A.J. Weberman, Reverend Billy, Bill Ayers, Tony Schwartz, as well as demonstrations and activist movements around the country related to wars, AIDS, labor, housing, and other issues.