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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History 200C: Gender, Sexuality, and Law (U.S.)

Introduces history majors to basic research library concepts (you should master before History 498). Provides both a broad overview of the source types collected by research libraries, and also lists specific sources relevant to research for this course.

What is the Alternative Press?

This page is a guide to finding serial publications of the non-mainstream media, often referred to as “alternative” or “underground” press publications, which include newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and other types of serial publications. These periodicals tend to be written from an acknowledged political perspective–for example, antiwar–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. One scholar has defined them as "periodicals aimed at certain minority or dissident groups and usually distributed through irregular channels."1

This guide covers primarily alternative press publications of the United States, with some coverage of Canada and the United Kingdom. African American newspapers are treated in a separate page on this guide.

Alternative newspapers and periodicals are sometimes mistakenly referred to as "underground newspapers." Strictly speaking, an underground publication is one that is published secretly--in other words, the place of publication and identity of the publisher are not disclosed. Most alternative newspapers and periodicals in library collections do not meet this criterion.

Digital Collections

Below are the major digital collections that reproduce alternative periodicals. In some cases, these periodicals are embedded in larger collections of mixed document types (for example: The Sixties: Primary Documents and Personal Narratives).

Digital Collections: LGBTQ Newspapers and Periodicals

Article Indexes

Microform Collections

The University Library has hundreds of 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:

You can also search the Newspaper Database for periodicals devoted to a specific subject (for example: feminism, socialism, military, LBGTQ, labor).

Below are listed some of the major microfilm sets:

Bibliographies, Catalogs, and Guides


1. Mary Allcorn, The Underground Newspaper Collection of the University of Missouri Libraries (Ann Arbor: UMI, 1992), i.