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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History 498D: The Racial Dimensions of Medicine and Public Health

What are Periodicals?

Periodicals are publications like magazines, newspapers, and journals that are published "periodically" (for example, daily, or monthly, or quarterly).

This section of the guide primarily covers magazines and journals. The next section is devoted to newspapers.

Need a refresher? Learn more about periodicals:

Article Indexes/Databases

There are many article databases for finding periodical articles.  These databases are often called article indexes, but they are essentially searchable bibliographies of journal articles organized by subject.

Because the Library does not subscribe to every journal, and because not all journals are digitized, and because not all digitized journals are available in a single collection, the article indexes provide the only efficient means of identifying relevant articles from across the widest possible range of periodical publications.

Most of these article indexes include a mixture of academic and popular sources (and remember that sometimes the distinction is not clear).

To identify journal articles in American history and history of medicine, try:

For articles related to race and ethnicity:

For medicine, nursing, public health, and sociology:

For multi-disciplinary and general readership periodicals:

Digitized Journal Collections

Digitized Periodical Collections

Alternative Press

Serial publications of the non-mainstream media, often referred to as "alternative" or "underground" press publications, can be difficult to locate. Publications in this category include newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and other types of serial publications. These periodicals tend to be written from an acknowledged political perspective--for example, liberal or conservative--and they often promote a specific agenda. They might, however, report on news that is of interest to a specific community--often a marginalized one--without endorsing any defined ideology. Examples of these might be African American newspapers, gay and lesbian magazines, military newspapers, or publications of immigrant groups. The guide covers primarily alternative press publications of the United States, with some coverage of Canada and the United Kingdom.

The African American periodical press is covered in a separate guide:

Online Sources

Microfilm Sources

The University Library has hundreds of alternative newspapers on microfilm, with coverage back to 1960 and earlier. The best way to check for availability of specific titles, or to browse by date and place of publication, is to consult the Library's Newspaper Database. Listed below are specific collections of interest.

Reference Sources

How to Find a Periodical Article

If you have a citation for a periodical article, and you want to locate that article, the essential pieces of information you need to locate that article are the name of the journal (or magazine), and the publication date.

Let's look at the following citation as an example:

Houston, R.A. “Poor Relief and the Dangerous and Criminal Insane in Scotland, c.1740-1840.” Journal of Social History 40 no. 2 (2006): 453-476.

The key pieces of information are the name of the journal, Journal of Social History, and the date, 2006. You will use catalogs to determine whether or not the Library owns that journal. To reiterate: the title of the journal, not the title of the article, is the key piece of information when trying to locate that article in the Library.

Since most of our journals are now available online, the first catalog you will use is called:

If you do not find the journal in the catalog of Online Journals and Databases, you will next search for a print copy in the traditional Library catalog:

If the Library has neither an online nor a print copy of the journal, then you will request the article through Interlibrary Loan:


1. D.E. Davinson, The Periodicals Collection: Its Purpose and Uses in Libraries (London: Andre Deutsch, 1969), 38.