The C-SPAN Chronicles: Part II – Unique Finds – Processing is Like A Box of Chocolates: You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get

Hello there! Amanda here again with another edition of the C-SPAN Chronicles. This week I will be exploring unique items found in the C-SPAN records – some straightforward, some, well…not so much.

As a processor, I have spent many an hour surveying collections, and usually this task is fairly clear-cut. But despite knowing the majority of the contents of a collection, occasionally I have been surprised, and scratched my head in wonder at the materials hidden away in boxes.

Talking to archival processors, you would be hard-pressed to find somebody who did not have a story of a strange object uncovered during processing. Not only can these objects be entertaining, they oftentimes can be baffling. What do you do with these objects? Do they belong to the series of the surrounding materials? Will it need its own unique container? Is this object considered of enduring archival value? How does this object work with the rest of the collection? I personally find it a fun challenge to figure out the arrangement of these unique processing finds, and to stretch my intellectual and physical arrangement abilities. 

Moreover, processors occasionally come across objects or documents that are just plain cool. These are the moments archivists live for, whether it be a document with the signature of a famous historical figure, an original Playbill from a Broadway musical (in my case, this is equivalent to the Holy Grail), or a rare book made over 500 years ago – much like the ubiquitous “Forrest Gump” quote – processing is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get!

In processing the C-SPAN records, I have come across some unique objects leading me to ask the above questions. Needless to say this has kept me both busy and entertained. Below is a sampling of my finds. Enjoy!

The C-SPAN records contain hundreds of viewer letters – this one stuck out to me due to its unique format and the writer’s interesting handwriting.


Letter from President George W. Bush congratulating Lamb on C-SPAN receiving the Records of Achievement Award from the Foundation for the National Archives.


A “Celebrating C-SPAN’s 20th Anniversary” Frame containing an interesting drawing, Artist Unknown.


This shirt was coveted by most of SCRC staff- luckily it will be preserved indefinitely to the joy of all.


From a series of original mixed media paintings on board of various authors – this particular one features the writer Zora Neale Hurston.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment of the C-SPAN Chronicles later in May!

Follow SCRC on Social Media and look out for future posts on the processing of the C-SPAN Papers on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. To search the collections held at Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. You may also e-mail us at or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have questions. Appointments are not necessary to request and view collections.