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Research Guides

Magazines as Primary Sources

Sample magazine covers

Magazines are similar to newspapers. Popular magazines (news, fashion, sports, etc.) provide a good feel for the period. Unlike newspapers, there is are databases and printed indexes to help you identify specific articles on topics. 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, history of technology, and popular culture.

Finding Older Magazine Articles

The UW Libraries has backfiles (some in print, others on microfilm) of many major American popular magazines such as Ladies Home Journal and Reader's Digest and selective holdings for other countries. The databases are a mixture of fulltext collections, individual digitized magazines and indexes to article citations (article title, magazine name, volume, date and pages) that can be used to identify magazine articles written on a topic or by a particular author.

Selected Magazines

This selective list provides a glimpse into the wide range of printed/microfilmed magazines available at the UW Libraries. Current issues of many of these magazines are available online though databases such as Academic Search Complete.

Using Google to Find Magazine Articles

Google has digitized backfiles of some magazines. They have not publicized a list of digitized magazines but it includes Life, Billboard, Ebony, Jet, New York Magazine, Popular Mechanics and the gossip tabloid, Weekly World News plus others. To search for these magazine articles, use the Advanced search option in  Google Books and follow this search example.

HathiTrust search example