Periodical articles can be very useful for research purposes, such as term papers, literature reviews, professional papers, and genealogy. Periodicals, which include magazines, journals, and newspapers, often contain the most timely or specific information on any given topic. Furthermore, magazine or newspaper articles from the past preserve valuable historical information about how people lived, what they thought about, and how they experienced crucial events.
The Periodicals Department has prepared this guide to show you the numerous options available and to make searching for periodicals easier by answering questions on the following topics:
How do I find articles on my topic?
What is a periodical citation?
How do I use an electronic database?
How can I tell if the Pratt Library owns a particular periodical?
Where else can I find information about using periodicals in research?
Newspaper Web sites
Using an index is often the most efficient way to find articles on a particular subject. Keep in mind that:
A citation is a reference to a published article, and it usually provides:
Both print indexes and databases provide citations for articles. The full-text of many (but not all) articles is also available in most databases. If the Pratt databases you use provide only the article citation, you can check to see whether the periodical in which the article appears is held by Pratt in paper or microfilm formats. If not, you can ask the librarian to order the article for you through interlibrary loan. If you are in a hurry and can't wait for the article to arrive through interlibray loan, you can ask the librarian to check WorldCat to see if the article is available at any other local library. Most local university libraries allow Baltimore residents to copy articles at their facilities.
If you are writing a research paper, you will also need the citation information for your bibliography.
The Library has a variety of electronic databases that index articles and allow you to combine keywords relating to your topic so you can target the articles you need. For example, in a print index such as Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature you might look up “education” and find articles about that topic under various subheadings, such as “computer use” or “African-Americans” for one year or a short span of years. A database, however, allows one to enter keywords such as “classroom” and “African-Americans” and “computers” and "middle school" and so very narrowly target one's search across several years at once.
Consult the “Help” feature of the specific database that your are using for tips on effective searching and for advance search functions.
Newspaper databases are also available at Pratt, such as the National Newspapers database and the Historical Newspapers database. The Pratt Library has several databases with local newspaper content, including content from the Baltimore Sun (recent and historical) and the Baltimore Afro-American. Many newspapers have Web sites, but they often require registration to read articles online and payment to view or print the full-text. The Pratt Library's databases allow free viewing of all full-text articles, although there is a modest per-page cost to print using the Library's printers. However, users in the Library can email database articles to their home computers and print them out for free on their home printers.
Listed below are the Web sites of some national newspapers:
If you have any questions about how to get started or need help using some of these sources, please e-mail us, call (410) 396-5451, or contact us by snail-mail:
Enoch Pratt Free Library
State Library Resource Center
400 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201