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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Newspapers and Magazines as Primary Sources

A tutorial on using newspapers and magazines as primary sources for historical research. Emphasis is on analysis and interpretation of these sources, not on finding them.


In this fourth part of the tutorial, we will provide you will some questions and resources that would enable you to extend the inquiry you began in the first three parts.

Exercise for Step 4

Questions to Ask About Your Primary Source

  1. How might you use this article as evidence in a historical argument?
  2. Did this publication publish articles on similar topics in other issues?
  3. If this article had a conspicuous point of view, then did the publication publish other articles with similar points of view? Did it publish other articles with different points of view?
  4. What other information would help you more accurately interpret this article as a piece of historical evidence?
  5. Look up your publications in a periodicals directory. If you were working with articles from Group A, use a directory like Rowell's or Ayer's. If you were working with articles from Group B, use the Waterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals. Does the directory give the publication's political affiliation, circulation, or any other useful contextualizing information?