American History and American Studies: Articles from the 17th through Mid-20th Centuries

The Purpose of this Page

Various online resources provide access to full text and/or full-page image of selected periodicals and newspapers from the 17th, 18th, 19th, or early 20th  century. You may wish to supplement your searching of Full-Text Resources, by searching Indexes (third box on this page). Indexes may cover some periodicals that are not included in full-text resources. Bibliographies and Histories (fourth box on this page) can provide you with useful context about the periodicals and newspapers you are discovering in your research.

Full-Text Resources

  • Accessible Archives
    Contains a wide range of primary-source collections drawn mainly from the 18th and 19th centuries.  Includes African-American and abolitionist newspapers (such as Frederick Douglass’ Paper); periodicals designed for women readers (such as Godey’s Lady’s Book);  the illustrated literary and news publication Frank Leslie’s Weekly; and early American newspapers, (such as Pensylvania Gazette). Includes an extensive seven-part collection covering the Civil War from a variety of perspectives; as well as American county histories.
  • African American historical serials collection    (EBSCO)
    "Includes African American periodicals, annuals and reports published from 1829-1922 including materials from African American religious organizations and social service agencies." (from publisher's description)
  •  African-American newspapers Series 1, 1827-1998   (Readex)
    "Chronicling a century and a half of the African American experience, African American Newspapers, Series 1, features 280 newspapers from 35 states, including many rare and historically significant 19th-century titles....
    Based upon James P. Danky's African-American Newspapers and Periodicals."

  • African American periodicals, 1825-1995   (Readex)
    "Allows users to search more than 170 African American Periodicals published between 1825 and 1995. Created by Readex through a partnership with the Wisconsin Historical Society, African American Periodicals enables researchers to explore African American culture, thought and opinion ranging over more than 150 years of African American life." (from publisher's description)
    ►May be cross-searched with other databases covering similar time periods in Archive of Americana.
  • American Antiquarian Society (AAS) historical periodicals collection (1691-1877) (EBSCO)
    Provides digital access to an extensive collection of American periodicals published between 1691 and 1877. "Subject coverage includes: Art, Architecture, Music; Books and Publishing; Business, Agriculture, Industry; Ethnic Groups; Family and Society; History and Description; Language, Literature, Law, Politics and Government; Religion and Philosophy; Revolutionary War; and Science and Medicine." Produced by a partnership between EBSCO and the American Antiquarian Society (AAS), one of the premier libraries documenting the life of America's people from the Colonial Era through the Civil War and Reconstruction. (Derived from publisher's description.)
  • American Periodicals  (ProQuest)
    "Includes digitized images of the pages of American magazines and journals published from colonial days to the dawn of the 20th century. Titles range from Benjamin Franklin's General Magazine and America's first scientific journal, Medical Repository; popular magazines such as Vanity Fair and Ladies' Home Journal; regional and niche publications; and groundbreaking journals like The Dial, Puck, and McClure's." Also includes "labor, trade, literary, scientific, and photographic periodicals, as well as other historically significant titles."
  • America's historical newspapers     (Readex)
    For searching and browsing American newspapers published from 1690 through the late 20th century, America's Historical Newspapers is the most comprehensive online resource available. Through Columbia Libraries, we have access to the following: Early American Newspapers, 1690-1922, Series 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 13; African American Newspapers, 1827-1998, Series 1; Ethnic American Newspapers, 1799-1971; Caribbean Newspapers, 1718-1876; and Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980. (Early American Newspapers, 1690-1922, Series 8 and 9 were added in July 2017.)
    ►May be cross-searched with other databases covering similar time periods in Readex AllSearch.
  • Archive of Americana (Readex)
    Comprehensive historical collections including materials printed in the United States from the 16th through 20th centuries. Includes books, periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets, broadsides, government documents, and ephemera. Collections cross-searchable on the Archive of Americana platform include: America’s Historical Imprints; Afro-Americana Imprints; America’s Historical Newspapers; Hispanic American Newspapers; African American Periodicals; American State Papers; and U.S. Congressional Serial Set.
  • Chronicling America : Historic American Newspapers (Library of Congress) {Open Access]
    Search America's historic newspapers pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
  • Ethnic American newspapers from the Balch collection, 1799-1971 (Readex)
    "Enables users to search more than 130 Ethnic American newspapers published in the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries. Created in partnership with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. . . ." (from publisher's description)
    ►May be cross-searched with other databases covering similar time periods in Archive of Americana.
  • Forbes archive (EBSCO)
    Contains indexing, abstracting, and full text for the complete archive of Forbes, beginning with its first issue in 1917 and ending in December 2000.
  • Gale NewsVault  (Gale Cengage Learning)
    Search across multiple collections of British and American periodical and newspaper content, including: 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers; 19th Century British Library Newspapers; 19th Century U.S. Newspapers; and 19th Century UK Periodicals. Also includes historical archives for a number of individual periodicals or newspapers: Daily Mail; Economist; Illustrated London News; Punch; Times; Times Literary Supplement and others.
  • Gerritsen Collection: Women's History Online, 1543-1945
    Full-text collection of books and periodicals relating to the history of women, women's rights, and women's suffrage. The bulk of materials fall within 1880-1920.
  • HarpWeek
    Page images and searchable full text of Harper's Weekly, the popular illustrated American magazine, for the period 1856-1912. Detailed searchable subject index.
  • Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980
    Includes hundreds of Spanish-language or Spanish/English bilingual newspapers printed in the U.S. during the 19th and 20th centuries.
    ►May be cross-searched with other databases covering similar time periods in Archive of Americana.
  • Historical Black Newspapers 
    A subset of Proquest Historical Newspapers (see listing below). Full-text and full-image access to the following newspapers:  Atlanta Daily World (1931-2003); Baltimore Afro-American (1893-1988); Chicago Defender (1909-1975); Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005); New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993); and Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002).

  • Independent Voices : An Open Access Collection of an Alternative Press (Reveal Digital)
    "Independent Voices chronicles the transformative decades of the 60s, 70s and 80s through the lens of an independent alternative press. Consolidated for the first time, Independent Voices provides over 1,000 titles from the special collections of dozens of libraries. Independent Voices provides easy access to the powerful voices of feminists, dissident GIs, campus radicals, Native Americans, anti-war activists, Black Power advocates, Latinos, gays, lesbians and more."
    "JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources. JSTOR helps people discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching platform, and preserves this content for future generations." Journals in JSTOR are covered back to their first issues. Recency of coverage varies by title. Some titles are covered up through latest issue; others only up through five years ago, etc.
  • Making of America (University of  Michigan and Cornell University) [Open Access]
    A collaborative effort between the University of  Michigan and Cornell University, Making of America (MOA) draws on the depth of primary materials at those universities' libraries. MOA is a thematically-related digital library documenting American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction, focusing on items printed from 1850 to 1877.
  • The Nation Archive Premium Edition (EBSCO)
    "The Nation is America's oldest weekly magazine and one if its premier journals of opinion since its inception in 1865. The Nation has long been regarded as one of the country's definitive journalistic voices of writing on politics, culture, books and the arts and continues to stand as the independent voice in American journalism. . . . This database contains indexing & abstracting and full text for the complete archive of The Nation beginning with its first issue in 1865 through to the present."
  • 19th Century U.S. Newspapers
    Searchable database containing digital facsimile images of newspapers, presented as full page layout as well as single articles. Advertisements and illustrations are included. This collection includes numerous newspapers from a range of urban and rural regions throughout the U.S.; and it encompasses the entire 19th century.
    ►May be cross-searched with other databases covering similar time periods in Gale NewsVault.
  • PAIS International  &  PAIS Archive
     items published 1915 to the present
    The "PAIS International" database contains references to journal articles, books, government documents, statistical directories, grey literature, research reports, conference reports, publications of international agencies, microfiche, Internet material, and more.  It includes publications from over 120 countries throughout the world. The "PAIS Archive" database (which is searched simultaneously with "PAIS International")  comprises a retrospective conversion of the "PAIS Annual Cumulated Bulletin," volumes 1-62, published 1915-1976. The "PAIS Archive" database contains references to monographs, periodical articles, notes and announcements, and analytics. Since its establishment in 1914, PAIS (Public Affairs Information Service) has chronicled public and social policy issues in the public debate through highly selective coverage of a wide variety of sources.
  • Periodicals Archive Online (ProQuest)
    "A major archive that makes the backfiles of periodicals in the humanities and social sciences available electronically." Many general interest periodicals are also included. PAO "is international in scope with the inclusion of more than 150 foreign-language titles." Each periodical included is covered back to its first issues. Many periodicals are covered up through 2001.  
  • Proquest Historical Newspapers
    Full-text and full-image articles, dating back to their first issues, for the following newspapers: Atlanta Constitution (1868-1945), Atlanta Daily World (1931-2003), Baltimore Afro-American (1893-1988), Boston Globe (1872-1927), Chicago Tribune (1849-1987), Hartford Courant (1764-1985), Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005), Los Angeles Times (1881-1987), New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993), New York Times (1851-2006), The New York Tribune (1841-1922), Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002), The Wall Street Journal (1889-1992), The Washington Post (1877-1993). Also includes British newspapers The Guardian (1821-2003) and The Observer (1791-2003).  
    NOTE: To limit your search to one or more of the above newspapers: Click on "Select Multiple Databases" in the main search screen, scroll down to "Historical Databases," and de-select items as desired.
  • Readex AllSearch  Cross Searchable Platform  (Readex)
    A streamlined platform for efficiently searching across all Readex collections available through Columbia University Libraries. The list of cross-searchable collections includes African American Periodicals, America's Historical Newspapers, America's Historical Imprints, Hispanic American Newspapers; and the U.S. Congressional Serial Set


Indexes are designed to help researchers identify where articles meeting certain criteira (subject, author, title, etc.) have been published in periodicals and/or newspapers.  With so many full-text resources available (as listed in box above), why would you want to use an index? Sometimes indexes can help you find things that you were overlooking in a full-text resource. Or sometimes they might cover titles that are not included in a full-text resource. They are one more tool that an inventive researcher will want to explore. It is also the case that many databases that have traditionally been understood as indexes have increasingly been providing access to full text of articles through the e-Link feature.

Online Indexes
  • Nineteenth-Century Masterfile
    Integrates a number of indexes to nineteenth-century printed material into one database. Includes: Poole's Index to Periodical Literature (1802-1906), and other general periodical indexes; New York Daily Tribune Index (1875-1906), New York Times Index (1863-1905), and other indexes devoted to specific newspaper or periodical titles; as well as specialized indexes for law, religion, and government documents.
  • Historical Newspapers Online
    Electronic form of the indexes to the London Times and the New York Times. Currently covers the London Times beginning 1790 and the New York Times beginning 1851.
  • Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective : 1908-1981
    "A retrospective database that indexes over 750 legal periodicals published in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Content is also drawn from 38 printed compendia, which provides access to approximately 540,000 records. Coverage also includes: annual surveys of laws by jurisdiction; annual surveys of federal court cases; yearbooks and annual institutes."
  • Readers Guide Retrospective
    Coverage: 1890-1982. Provides citations to articles in popular and general-interest periodicals.
Print Indexes
  • Writings on American History, 1902-1989/90.
    Location: BUTLER STACKS
    Call Number: Z1236 .L331
    Lists books and articles on American history. Useful for its coverage of the years 1902 - 1954, before America: History and Life begins its coverage.
To Identify Additional Relevant Indexes

For a fuller listing and discussion of periodical and newspaper guides and/or indexes, see:

  • Balay, Robert. Early periodical indexes : bibliographies and indexes of literature published in periodicals before 1900. (Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 2000)
    Butler Reference R016.05 B18
  • Prucha, Francis Paul. Handbook for Research in American History, 2nd. ed (Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1994), 50-61, 73-80.
    Butler Reference Desk R016.973 P951

Bibliographies and Histories

Bibliographies and histories can provide you with varying degrees of information about specific periodicals or newspapers and/or about the periodical press as a whole in a given time period. Some major examples of such works would be:

  • Mott, Frank Luther. A History of American Magazines, 5 vols. (New York, London, D. Appleton 1930-1968)
    BUTLER STACKS PN4877 .M63 1930

Many specialized bibliographies, which list and describe certain types of periodical publications, are also available. Some examples are listed below. Note that the base call number they share--R016.051--identifies a good area of Butler Reference (Room 310, Alcove 5) to browse for similar resources.

  • Humphreys, Nancy K. American women's magazines : an annotated historical guide (New York: Garland, 1989)
  • Lora, Ronald and William Henry Longton, eds. The conservative press in eighteenth-and nineteenth-century America (New York: Greenwood Press, 1999)

Using CLIO to Identify Additional Resources

Books and other information resources about periodicals and newspapers can be searched in CLIO under the appropriate subject headings.

Select "Subject" from the pull-down "Search" box menu in the Basic Searching screen of CLIO.

Enter one of the following searches:

american periodicals
american newspapers

Once you have done your subject search in CLIO:

  • Look at the overall list of entries to see how the large subject of "american periodicals" is broken down. If you are interested in finding more of the types of resources listed in this handout, you should be attentive to headings such as:
    american periodicals--bibliography
    american periodicals--directories
    american periodicals-history
    american periodicals--indexes
  • Click "More Info" next to the "American Periodicals" subject heading to see more specialized subject headings that you may search under, for example:
    african american periodicals
    children's periodicals american
    hispanic american periodicals
    women's periodicals american