Discover a Database! American Periodical Series Online

By Laura Mosher
Reference Librarian

Welcome to our new series of articles, each one focusing on a specific database that is offered through the USMA Library. In each article, we’ll explore a different, perhaps unfamiliar, database; explain a bit about what information it includes and why it might be useful, and provide some tips on searching for just the right bit of info for that paper or research project you are working on.

Today’s featured database is perfect for the History major, or anyone who is doing research into America’s past: the American Periodical Series Online (aka American Periodicals). This collection, offered through ProQuest, provides digitized reproductions of more than eleven hundred 18th and 19th century American newspapers and periodicals. The titles include popular publications such as Vanity Fair and Ladies Home Journal along with specific-interest publications like the National Police Gazette and American Architect, and cover a wide range of American history and experience. Featured magazines included writings by huge names in American Literature (Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Edgar Allan Poe), as well articles that reflect the changes in American society and culture during times of turmoil,  such as the American Revolution and the Civil War Era. Since the periodicals in this collection are digitized from the originals, all content is visible – from the usual articles, editorials & editorial cartoons, and obituaries, to artwork, images, and advertising.

  • Who should be using this database: Cadets taking American History classes.
  • What those users will find: A rich source of writing about all aspects of the American experience through the 18th and 19th centuries (the American Revolution; the Gilded Age; the Lewis & Clark expedition; Westward expansion; the US during the Great War; the Great Depression; the Industrial Revolution)

Tips for searching:

  • Use those operators! Choosing “AND” between search terms makes your result set smaller (and more narrow), while choosing “OR” between search terms makes your result list bigger.
  • Use those drop downs! Specify that your term should be in the Title or Author field, or if you want a specific publication, specific a word or name and choose “Publication Title.”
  • Limit by date of publication to get articles written at the time an event occurred.
  • Looking for an editorial cartoon about America’s entry into WW I, or an obituary of someone famous? Limit your results by document type.

As always, ask a Librarian for help if you have any questions about any of our research products!