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Finding Primary Sources: Magazines

Assistance with locating primary source material within and outside the WSU Libraries.

Magazines as Primary Sources


Popular magazines (news, fashion, sports, etc.) usually publish articles and commentary about the present time.  In addition to the articles, illustrations and advertisements are also useful primary sources - especially for the study of consumerism, gender roles, material culture, history of technology, and popular culture.

Access to Magazine Articles

Weekly magazines such as Time and Newsweek have been published for a very long time.  Time magazine was started in 1923, for example. 

We have many of these older magazines in bound paper volumes so that you can find articles or advertisements published during a specific time period.  If you have a particular date range in mind, you can grab a volume off the shelves and browse through it. 

Ebony magazine

bound magazine

If you need to research a particular topic (e.g., attitudes in the United States about politics or religion), you can use an article index such as Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature (1890-1982) to pinpoint an article on this topic printed in the 1900s, 1930s, 1960s, or any decade/year you like.


Examples of popular magazines with print holdings.  For online access search the magazine title in the catalog, Search It, and use the link for online access.

Using Google to Find Magazine Articles

Google has begun an effort to digitize backfiles of magazines.  They have not publicized a list of digitized magazines but it includes Life, Billboard, Ebony, Jet, New York Magazine, Popular Mechanics and the gossip tabloid, Weekly World News plus others. New magazines appear to be added periodically. To search for these magazine articles, use the Advanced search option in  Google Books and follow this search example.

Magazine Advertisements

Use Google Books Advanced Search (detail in the box above) to search for advertisements.  Sample searches:  advertisement skin; advertisement appliances

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