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Media: Series I: 33 reels of 35mm microfilm; Series II: 1,966 reels of 35mm microfilm; Series III: 771 reels of 35mm microfilm
Coverage Dates: 1741-1900

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Researchers recognize that the literature and publications of a country are an important barometer of its political and social development. The more than 1,000 periodicals in these three microfilm collections provide the materials necessary to study trends in the United States from 1741 to 1900.

Covering more than 150 years of American magazine journalism, American Periodicals is conveniently divided into three segments. Each covers a definite developmental phase in the history of our country, spanning approximately 50 years.

Series I: 1741-1800--Beginnings (APS I) American magazine journalism began in 1741 with Benjamin Franklin's General Magazine and Andrew Bradford's American Magazine. These and other publications in this first series reflect the political and cultural birth of the U.S. and include the first American short stories published in Massachusetts Magazine (1789-96).

The 89 titles in American Periodicals Series I provide valuable research material for students in various disciplines. Students of literature and journalism history, for example, find particularly useful the Independent Reflector (1752-53), one of the best examples of essay journalism from that era. For historians, firsthand accounts of the Revolution, as well as descriptions of the latest inventions, can be found in Tom Paine's Pennsylvania Magazine (1775-76).

This 18th-century collection also contains publications in the fields of religion, music, and science, including Medical Repository (1797-1800), America's first scientific journal. Series I is a well-rounded introduction to American periodical journalism as it grew with the nation.

Series II: 1800-1850--Growth & Change (APS II) The issue of slavery was debated widely and emotionally for decades before it divided the nation during the Civil War. The periodicals from the pre-war era included in American Periodicals Series II provide social historians with a wealth of literature on this volatile issue.

Students will discover such materials as: The Genius of Universal Emancipation (1821-39), the first of the many abolitionist journals in this collection; William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator (1831-65), which became the most celebrated abolitionist periodical; and counterpoint publications such as Southern Quarterly Review (1842-57), which upheld the institution of slavery.

Additional Research Opportunities The 911 titles in Series II demonstrate the rapid growth of periodicals after 1800 and include virtually all the significant magazines of the period.

Hard-to-locate research materials, such as Poe's contributions to Southern Literary Messenger (1831-64) and Hawthorne's New England Magazine (1831-35), are available to literary researchers through this collection. The venerable North American Review (1815-1940) printed much of the era's leading literature including "Thanatopsis," and many other periodicals took literature or drama as their exclusive provinces.

American Periodicals Series II also includes over 20 women's magazines that flourished during this period such as Godey's Lady's Book (1830-98), as well as children's magazines such as The Youth's Companion (1827-1927) and Merry's Museum (1841-72), which was edited for a time by Louisa May Alcott.

In addition, graduate and undergraduate students and researchers in religion, science, and history will find a rich source of materials in this series.

Series III: 1850-1900--Crisis & Reconstruction (APS III) Series III includes 118 periodicals from the Civil War and Reconstruction era published during the last half of the 19th century. This select grouping focuses on many of the early important professional journals, such as Publications of the American Economic Association and Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

This series also includes many celebrated titles issued by publishing houses--Scribners, Harper's Bazaar, Lippincott's, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, and Ladies' Home Journal. Students of marketing and advertising will find these popular periodicals useful in exploring the first examples of modern advertising slogans.

Individual reels may be purchased from this collection.

  • Content Type: Each reel begins with a contents page. American Periodicals, 1741-1900, An index to the Microfilms Collections, edited by Jean Hoornstra and Trudy Heath, provides access by title, subject, editor and reel number. Title list free with collection.

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