Collection Summary

The Sesame Street collection contains over 4,000 episodes from the iconic children’s series, now the longest-running children’s television show in American history. Five complete episodes are available online, and the entire collection is accessible to researchers at the Library of Congress Moving Image Research Center. Spanning the first 50 seasons of Sesame Street’s run, episodes in the collection cover a broad swath of characters, cast members, guests, and stories. First conceived in 1966 by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrissett, Sesame Street was created with the goal of preparing disadvantaged children for school. After two years of extensive research with educators and advisors, the series aired in 1969 as a production of Children’s Television Workshop to immediate acclaim. Sesame Street was filmed with a mix of characters, including children and adults, celebrity guest hosts, and a cast of colorful Jim Henson Muppets, with special emphasis placed on the cast’s diversity. Sesame Street is known for its introduction of sensitive subjects for its child audience over the years, including talking honesty about death and grieving after the beloved actor who played Mr. Hooper died; helping children process overwhelming events like 9/11 with lessons around loss, appreciation of firefighters, and cultural bias; promoting understanding and acceptance of autism through the introduction of a new character named Julia; welcoming diverse characters and culturally relevant storylines to help children grow up with healthy self-identities and a sense of belonging; and much more. As of 2023, Sesame Street has won over 216 Emmy Awards, 11 Grammy Awards, and two Peabody Awards.

Collection Background

Sesame Street began in 1969 as a production of Children’s Television Workshop (CTW), now known as Sesame Workshop. Originally the brainchild of television producer Joan Ganz Cooney and psychologist and Carnegie Corporation Vice President Lloyd Morrisett, the organization was established with the goal of using the medium of television to reach and educate disadvantaged children. Cooney served as CEO between 1968 and 1990, and Morrisett was chairman of the Workshop board from 1968 to 2000; in 2000 CTW rebranded as Sesame Workshop to better represent the nonprofit organization’s work outside of television. Episodes of Sesame Street were contributed to the American Archive of Public Broadcasting starting in 2018.