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Research Guides

HSTAA 231: Race & American History: Primary Sources: News & Magazines

Why Use Newspapers & Magazines


Newspapers are a primary source providing a first rough draft of events. Since most newspapers are local in scope, there is good coverage of local issues. Newspapers also provide a good feel for the time period.

Popular magazines (news, fashion, sports, etc.) also provide a good feel for the period. However since most magazines are national in scope, there is limited coverage of local topics. In addition to the articles, the illustrations and advertisements that are imbedded in magazines are useful primary sources especially for the study of consumerism, gender roles, material culture and popular culture.

If you were researching the murder of Emmett Till you could use news coverage to see contemporary reaction to the murder in 1955. You could also compare mainstream (i.e. White) press coverage of the murder and trial with that of the African American press. 

For more information on using newspapers as primary sources see: Analyzing NewspapersNewspapers & Learning to Do Historical Research: Prowling the Periodicals.

Finding Newspaper Articles

Additional newspapers are available on microfilm. Microfilmed newspapers are located in cabinets arranged by microfilm number on the ground floor of Suzzallo Library. To find out what newspapers are available for a given city use the card file in the newspaper section. Microfilm readers, printers and scanners are available to use. Check with the Help Desk on the ground floor for help using the equipment. Use the Pacific Northwest regional newspaper & periodical index to search for articles published in local newspapers on various topics.

Finding Magazine Articles

The following list includes both indexes to magazines (helps you identify citations to specific articles written on a topic within a group of magazines but does not include the fulltext), collections of magazines (some complete fulltext, others a mixture of fulltext and citations), and single digitized magazines.