How to Locate Speeches

Speeches are published in a variety of sources and can be identified in several ways. Many published collections of speeches are listed in the online catalog under the subject headings SPEECHES, ADDRESSES, ETC. and AMERICAN ORATIONS. The Speech Index, described below, is the best way to find out which speeches are in published collections.

General Sources

Representative American Speeches. v. 1-. 1937/38-. New York: Wilson. [ULIB PS 668 B3] Reprints speeches "on current issues and social trends in the United States and other countries." Each volume also contains brief biographical information for the individuals whose speeches are reprinted. Cumulative Author Index:

  • 1937-1960 in the 1959/60 volume
  • 1960-1970 in the 1969/70 volume
  • 1970-1980 in the l979/80 volume

After 1970 each issue contains a cumulative author index.

Sutton, Roberta (Briggs). Speech Index: An Index to 259 Collections of World Famous Orations and Speeches for Various Occasions. 4th ed., rev. and enl. New York: Scarecrow Press, 1966. --Supplement, 1966-1980. Ed. by Charity Mitchell. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1982. [ULIB Ref AI 3 S85 1966] These indexes to speeches published in 259 collections cover world famous orations and speeches for various occasions.

Vital Speeches of the Day, v-.1 -. 1934-. Mount Pleasant, SC: City News Publ. [ULIB Per PN 6121 V5] Prints in full the important addresses of contemporary leaders of public opinion in the fields of economics, politics, education, sociology, business and labor. Strong emphasis on government and big business.

Also Available: Vital Speeches of the Day Index. v.1-50, 1934-1984. New York: City News Publ. [ULIB Ref PN 6121 V5] Online Database Also Available: EBSCO Academic Search Complete (1990 – present)

Speeches Available on the Internet

American Memory

American Memory – American Memory provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. It is a digital record of American history and creativity. These materials, from the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions, chronicle historical events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape America, serving the public as a resource for education and lifelong learning.

American Rhetoric – This site includes over 5000 speeches and other orations on a variety of topics. Many of the speeches on this site are available as audio and video files.

The History Place: Great Speeches Collection – This site covers more than fifty famous speeches from American and World speakers. Select entries include biographies of speakers, audio files, photographs, and links to additional information. Speeches from Napoleon Bonaparte, Susan B. Anthony, John F. Kennedy and others are included.

The History Channel: Speeches – Archive of famous speeches from around the world. Speeches arranged alphabetically by speaker’s last name. Also search for speeches by categories or keywords. May include orator’s biographical information.

Speeches by Elected Officials

The following list includes some of the specialized sources for locating speeches by elected officials.

From Revolution to Reconstruction: Presidents – This Internet site provides inaugural addresses, State of the Nation (Union) addresses and other speeches by the Presidents of the United States.

The American Presidency Project – Transcripts of presidential and vice presidential debates dating back to 1960.

United States. Congressional Record. Washington: Government Publishing Office. V.1-. 1873-. [GOVDOC J 85 X/a:] Includes speeches made before Congress. Printed volumes for the most recent three years are in the Government Publications area. Earlier volumes are on microfilm. Online Database Also Available: LexisNexis Congressional (1985 – present)

United States President. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1932, 1945-. [ULIB J 80 A283] Contains the public messages, speeches and statements of the Present. Includes papers from Presidents Hoover through Clinton. Updated by the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, see next.

Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. August 2, 1965-. Washington: Federal Register. [Per J 80 A284] Includes "transcripts of the Presidents’ news conferences, messages to Congress, public speeches," etc. Annual index. Online Database Also Available: EBSCO Academic Search Complete(1/2/95 – present)

Speeches About Multicultural/Social Issues

Social Justice Speeches Project – This site focuses on speeches about social justice, primarily multicultural issues and women’s rights.

Voices of Democracy Project – The Voices of Democracy project is designed to promote the study of great speeches and public debates. The emphasis of the project is on the actual words of those who, throughout American history, have defined the country’s guiding principles, debated the great social and political controversies of the nation’s history, and shaped the identity and character of the American people. In the process of reinvigorating the humanistic study of U.S. oratory, the Voices of Democracy project aims to foster understanding of the nation’s principles and history and to promote civic engagement among humanities students, teachers, and scholars.

Speeches by Women

Gifts of Speech – This Internet site provides access to speeches made by influential contemporary woman.

Speeches on Video

Payson, Parker. Great American Speeches: 80 years of political oratory. Princeton: NJ, 1997. [ULIB IMC Vid Cas / PS 668 G74x 1995A pt 1-6] This six-part series provides political speeches on film from 1904-1984.

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