Recording everything from international events to local activities, newspapers count as an invaluable resource for many historians. Although national in scope, the Library Company’s collection is strongest in Philadelphia-area newspapers from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We have full runs of significant publications such as Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette, which tracked events during the Revolution and yellow fever epidemics, and Zachariah Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, chronicling life in the early nineteenth century. In addition to general newspapers, which often showed political bias, there were other newspapers directed at narrower audiences. Der WochentlichePhiladelphischen Staatsboten,for example, was published for German immigrants in their native language. And William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator was one of the most influential abolitionist papers of its time. Illustrated newspapers, which were founded in the mid nineteenth century, included Gleason’s Drawing-Room Companion, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, and Harper’s Weekly, the latter two titles notable for their graphic and up-to-the-minute chronicles of the Civil War.

Magazines, published less frequently, digested the latest news and packaged it together with instructional essays on history, biography, and science. Eighteenth-century Americans relied heavily on European magazines (also part of the Library Company’s collection) until such publications as the American Magazine and the Columbian Magazine reached their doors. Like newspapers, some serials were general collections – miscellanies – geared toward a wide audience, while others were more narrowly focused. Graham’s, Godey’s, and other similar titles targeted the interests of men and women, printing fiction and non-fiction pieces along with plates of the latest fashions. Magazines such as the New England Farmer, Scientific American,the Photographic Annual, and the North American Medical and Surgical Journal concentrated on audiences with more specialized interests. The Library Company’s collection of magazines, which includes hundreds more in addition to the titles mentioned here, and also contains the regularly published transactions of learned societies, is partially accessible through the online catalog. For complete holdings of all titles, please consult one of our reference librarians.


Clarence S. Brigham. History and Bibliography of American Newspapers 1690-1820 (Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 1947). 2 vols.

Edward E. Chielens, ed. American Literary Magazines: The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986).

James P. Danky, ed. and Maureen E. Hady, assoc. ed. African-American Newspapers and Periodicals: A National Bibliography (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998).

Jayne K. Kribbs, comp. and ed. An Annotated Bibliography of American Literary Periodicals, 1741-1850 (Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1977).

Winifred Gregory, ed. American Newspapers 1821-1936: A Union List of Files Available in the United States and Canada (New York: Kraus Reprint Corporation, 1967 [1937]).

Steven Lomazow. American Periodicals: A Collector’s Manual and Reference Guide (West Orange, NJ: Horowitz/Tae Book Manufacturers, 1996).

Frank Luther Mott. A History of American Magazines (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1938). 3 vols.

Edna Brown Titus, ed. Union List of Serials in Libraries of the United States and Canada (New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1965.) Third edition, 5 vols.