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Collections: Social Science

Where can I find videos showing tribal rituals?
Where can I find the Cold War era "duck and cover" videos?
Where can I compare advertisements from political campaigns?

From enthnographic field studies and historical news reels to political campaign videos, many digital collections feature audio and video sources.

Social Science Information Sources

Social sciences includes anthropology, archaeology, area studies, communications, cultural studies, demography, economics, education, geography, history, political science, law, psychology, sociology, and related disciplines.

How are audio and video used in the social sciences?


For the latest information about what's happening in government, go to the live feeds available of many government proceedings such as the live webcast from the Senate floor.

Documentaries and Field Video

From documentaries exploring social issues to field research videos in the outback, social sciences rely on audio and video as sources of information. For instnace, EVIA Digital Archive (Ethnographic Video for Instruction and Analysis). This collection is a “a collaborative endeavor to create a digital archive of ethnographic field video for use by scholars and instructors.”


"How-tos" related to cultural traditions and online classes in sociology are just a couple examples of what can be found in the area of audio and video tutorials. The Annenberg Learner website is filled with profesional development resources for educators including audio, video, and interactives.

Presentations and Programs

Many professional associations place excerpts from their programs online. For example, Medical Anthropology in the 21st Century with Lenore Manderson is available from the AAA. A few examples are listed below:

Interviews and Profiles

Interviews, profiles and oral histories all play an important role in the social sciences. For instance, the Native Nations Institute provides audio programs that feature Native nation leaders. The Great Depression Interviews focuses on programs related to the Great Depression era.

Public Service Announcements

The Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) produced a PSA on voter registration on YouTube.

Archives and Research

Particularly in the area of history, library users often seek historical materials. For instance, the United States Holocaust Museum houses thousands of sound and video recordings that the public as well as scholars can access. Dachau at liberation is an example of raw video taken in Spring 1945.

Audio and Video in the Library

Audio, video, and interactive collections are an important part of most library collections.

When developers blend audio and video with dynamics aspects of the web, new forms of media emerge. At the same time, many disciplines are exploring new ways of communicating understandings.

Many of the professional organizations related to social sciences house audio and video for professionals. An example is the American Psychological Association Videos. Do a search for professional associations and seek out their media galleries.

try itTry It!
Skim Hau, Wendy (December 9, 2013). Ethnography Beyond Text and Print: How the digital can transform ethnographic expressions. Ethnography Matters.

Skim Shorter, David (2011). On Multimodal Scholarship. Ethnomusicology Review, 16.

These are just a couple examples of how digital media is changing how scholars think about communication. Can you think of other areas that are evolving?


Audio resources are important to many areas of social science, particularly cultural studies, history and political science. Many nonfiction audiobooks are now available.


Podcasts can be found across social studies areas. History According to Bob is an example.

Look for podcasts related to different cultures and ethnic groups in society such as Native Nations Institute.

Podcasts are often associated with organizations or periodicals. Do a Google search for a national association or magazine and add the word podcast to find these. For instance, the American Anthropological Association has a podcast series.

Many public radio stations pro vide podcasts such as This American Life exploring American culture and Freakonomics Radio.

News podcasts can be found around the world. BBC's Global News podcast is particularly popular.

Explore Podbay's lists for ideas: Education, Government, News and Politics, and Society and Culture.

Online Audio Resources


Video recordings can be found across the social sciences.

Subscription-based Video

Many of the ProQuest, EBSCOhost, and Gale subscription databases contain audio and video clips. Do an advanced search focusing on your topic of interest.

Alexander Street Press

Open Access Video

Teaching and Learning Resources

Archeaology, Anthropology and Ethnographic Research

Area, Culture, and Social Issues Studies



Government, Law, Political Science, and Public Policy


Sociology and Psychology

Documentary Films and News Collections

Library of Congress: National Samplers

Library of Congress: Culture Studies

Social Science Video Resources from YouTube


Discipline-specific online tools can be found in some areas of social science.

Geography. Many online mapping tools like Google Maps and Google Earth are used in Geography.

HistoryRome Reborn is an online project that provides a digital model of ancient Rome.



Mobile Apps

Mobile apps are growing in popularity across the social studies disciplines.

Commerical Mobile Apps

TouchPress is known for their outstanding social science apps including Think Like Churchill in British history, The Pyramids in ancient history, , and False Conviction in science law.

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Go to TouchPress. Explore their outstanding commercial apps.
You don't need to purchase an app, but be sure to watch one of their videos to get a sense for the contents.

Education. In the area of education, teaching and learning apps are very popular. While some of these are using in the public classroom, many are purchased by parents or home-school teachers.

History. Many reference and education apps are found in the area of history. While some are created by government or museum organizations, others are developed inconjunction with digital collections. Many are connected with for-profit companies that want to sell services such as geneaology consulting. Most history apps incorporate primary source documents and analysis. Some are presented as timelines, while others use a thematic approach.

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