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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History 200C: Visual History: IV. Periodicals

A course guide.

On this Page:

  1. Historical Abstracts and America: History and Life
  2. Other Article Databases
  3. Full Text Resources

1. Historical Abstracts and America: History and Life

The two main article databases for history are Historical Abstracts and America: History and Life. One or the other of these databases is usually the best starting place to search for scholarly articles in English on topics in history. America: History and Life covers articles, book reviews, and dissertations on all periods of North American history published since 1964, and in some cases it provides links to the full text of the articles online. Historical Abstracts covers articles, book reviews, and dissertations published since 1954 on all aspects of world history, excluding North America, from 1450 to the present.

If you select the Easy Search tab on the Library Gateway, your search will be run in America: History and Life and Historical Abstracts, as well as several other multidisciplinary sources. In addition, you can click on “Easy Search” under Quick Links on that page to get the option to limit your search to articles on history.

Searching these databases directly, rather than through Easy Search, offers you more search options. Use the Subject Browser in these databases to select your subject term(s) by clicking on the open book icon to the right of the search box. You can narrow your search by adding a keyword or using more than one subject term. Your search results display as short records, which you can expand by clicking on “Expand Record” at the bottom of the record on the right. The full entry shows you an abstract or summary of the article. If a particular article is linked to full text, the link is highlighted.

2. Other Article Databases

There are many other specialized or multidisciplinary article databases that you could search, depending on the focus of your topic. The master list of article databases is available on the Library Gateway’s Online Research Resources page. Below are several that you might find useful in this class.

3. Full Text Article Databases

There are also several major collections of full-text online journals. In these databases you can browse individual issues of journals, or you can do a search across the entire database.

For older journals, use JSTOR ("journal storage"). This is a digitized, fully searchable version of the full content of more than 1,000 scholarly journals from their inception (sometimes as early as the 18th century) up to the last 1-5 years (recent issues are excluded). Several key historical journals are included in JSTOR, such as

  • Ethnohistory
  • Journal of Interdisciplinary History
  • Journal of Latin American Studies
  • Journal of Modern History
  • Past and Present
  • Journal of the Royal Geographic Society of London
  • Business History Review

Because it is a collection of digitized texts rather than a periodical index, it does not use subject headings. You can only search by keyword (i.e., the words used in the articles published in these journals), so it is prudent to try several synonyms for any given topic. Note that only about 10% of the articles in JSTOR have abstracts, so limiting your search term to the abstracts might cause you to miss relevant material. When a Boolean keyword search produces a large set of results, try using the proximity (“near”) operator to limit the results to a combination of terms occurring within 10 or 25 words of one another.

For the full text of more than 300 recent scholarly journals, use Project Muse. These too are fully searchable. In most cases, only the issues from the last few years are available. Here you will find, for example,

  • French Colonial History
  • Ethnohistory
  • Journal of Interdisciplinary History
  • Journal of Social History
  • Journal of Women’s History
  • Radical History Review
  • Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History
  • Victorian Studies

The full text of more than 20 scholarly journals in history is available through the History Cooperative, a joint project of the University of Illinois Press, National Academy Press, American Historical Association, and the Organization of American Historians. This includes the Journal of American History and American Historical Review (both from 1999), as well as Journal of World History, Journal of Social History, William and Mary Quarterly, Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Environmental History, Labour History, and others. 

Periodicals Archive Online provides full-text access to over 600 journals in the humanities and social sciences, with coverage back to 1700. (It is a full-text companion to Periodicals Index Online, which covers over 6,000 titles.) Periodicals can be browsed by subject.

An important collection of 1,100 periodicals, published between 1741 and 1900, entitled American Periodical Series, is available as American Periodical Series Online. Recently expanded to include 338 periodicals from the Center for Research Libraries, the collection includes some newspapers as well as other periodical publications. The articles are fully searchable by keyword, but there is no subject indexing, so you have to be careful to construct your searches using the language of the original articles (e.g., terms in use in the 19th and early 20th centuries, such as “travel diary,” “grand tour,” and “journey,” but not contemporary terms and concepts, such as “travel narratives,” “colonial discourses,” or “ecotourism”). You can, however, browse the periodicals by subject.

British Periodicals and 19th Century UK Periodicals cover periodicals of Britain and Ireland. British Periodicals covers late 17th to early 20th centuries. Browse periodical titles by subject in both collections. Some travel periodicals from these two collections:

  • Illustrated Travels: A Record of Discovery, Geography & Adventure
  • Our Ocean Highways: The Monthly Geographical Record and Travellers' Register
  • Stories of Pluck: A High Class Weekly Library of Adventure at Home and Abroad, on Land and Sea
  • Vacation Tourists and Notes of Travel
  • Journal of Travel and Natural History
  • The Argosy : a magazine of tales, travels, essays, and poems
  • Journal of the Royal Colonial Institute