Sunday, September 23, 2007

Research Tip: Use eBay to Browse Old Magazine Contents

In the old (pre-Internet) days, The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature was one of the top two or three most valuable research tools for writers. Carrying bibliographic listings for every article in every issue of selected magazines, The Reader's Guide was the starting point for research on almost anything. Its only limitation was that it did covered only high-circulation, well-established, and predominately mainstream magaiznes were included.

Today the Internet offers a variety of resources for tracking down articles on specific subjects. But The Reader's Guide remains a viable resource. I find it particularly useful when I'm researching historical topics; I can go back and find all articles on a given topic in 1938, for example. I'm fortunate to have access to the back editions through the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Unfortunately, most libraries don't keep decades of old Reader's Guides. Fortunately, you can access those old editions online (back to 1890) if you're affiliated with a college or library that subscribes to the service. Click here for more info.

But those institutional subscripions are pricey and odds are you probably don't have access to The Reader's Guide. Don't despair; you can still search out articles on specific topics (or by certain authors)--and in a wider range of magazines than old editions of The Reader's Guide cover. After Googling your subject, search eBay. More often than not people selling magazine back issues there list the articles and stories in each publication they offer. When I was researching CROSLEY, I turned up dozens of useful articles through eBay searches. Seller listings pointed me to magazines from the 1920s and 1930s that I would never have found otherwise. (And thanks to the archives of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County's Magazines and Newspapers Department, I didn't have to buy most of them.)

No comments: