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ARCH 3120: City, Landscape and Ecology

Prof. Ralph Ghoche, Fall 2021

Search Techniques for Magazines and Newspapers

About this guide

This guide lists digitized, full-text searchable databases for newspapers and magazines, with a focus on databases that have historical (e.g. 20th century and earlier) coverage. In order to search these databases, use terms that would have been in wide usage at the time of the article, even if those terms or words would not be in use currently. It's good practice to compile lists of keywords from your reference sources, secondary sources and from other primary sources. 

We have access to many more newspapers and magazines than are included in the databases listed on this guide. To search for a specific newspaper or magazine, for publications from a certain city, or for a specific article, use CLIO:

  • Searching for a specific newspaper or magazine: To search for a newspaper or magazine, begin your search in the Catalog. You can search first in E-Journal Titles to see if we have digital coverage of the journal during the years you are looking for; if not, broaden your search to the Catalogfor print or microfilm copies. Narrow your format to Newspaper or Journal/Periodical to hone in on the correct title and keep in mind that there may be many publications with the same name--look to place of publication or the full catalog description to determine if it is the right one. Click on the catalog record; the box on the right will have information about what years we have and in which format/from which databases.
  • Search by geographic location: To find newspapers from a certain city, search in the Catalog, narrowing the format to Newspaper first (you can do this with other formats such as Journal/Periodical, but since we have access to so many more scholarly journals than popular magazines, you may not find the type of periodical you're after). Then select Publication Place in the search bar and enter the name of the town or city, adding quotes for place names with more than one word, e.g. "Los Angeles". This is not a fool-proof method, and you may try similar searches in WorldCat to find many more publications.
  • Search for a specific article: (for which you have a citation, ideally with the publication and date), try searching first in the Articles tab, making sure to unselect the pre-applied "Not Content Type: Newspaper Article." If the article is not returned, follow the above instructions to search for the name of the newspaper or magazine in the Catalog. If you do not find it, or if we do not have coverage for the date on which the article appeared, you can put in an ILL request for the article. Try to include as much information on the request as you can, and know that this approach will take some time. Another approach is to see if NYPL or NYU has coverage for the newspaper or magazine and go to a branch or to NYU to use it (Barnard and Columbia students have reciprocal on-site access to NYU Libraries).‚Äč

Selected Newspaper, Magazine, and Other News Media Databases

Many of the databases noted in the Primary Sources and Articles pages of this guide also contain digitized newspapers and magazines. Those databases are not repeated here--definitely check those lists out if there is a subject area or time period not covered in these databases.

Boolean Keyword Searching

Boolean searching is based on an algebraic system of logic formulated by George Boole, a 19th century English mathematician.

In a Boolean keyword search, the terms are combined by the operators AND, OR and NOT to narrow or broaden the search (in CLIO, Ovid, and some other databases, you DO have to enter them in capitals).  This type of search is possible in most library catalogs and databases, but Google and other Web search engines do not carry out OR and NOT searches properly.

These Venn diagrams help to visualize the meaning of AND, OR and NOT; the colored area indicates the items that will be retrieved in each case.


The operator AND narrows the search by instructing the search engine to search for all the records containing the first keyword, then for all the records containing the second keyword, and show only those records that contain both.


The operator OR broadens the search to include records containing either keyword, or both.
The OR search is particularly useful when there are several common synonyms for a concept, or variant spellings of a word.

Examples using OR:
medieval OR "middle ages"
"heart attack" OR "myocardial infarction"
vergil OR virgil   


Combining search terms with the NOT operator narrows the search by excluding unwanted terms.


Examples using combinations of the three operators:
puritans AND women AND (massachusetts OR connecticut OR "rhode island" OR "new hampshire")
(adolescen* OR teen*) AND (cigarettes OR smok*)
reagan AND "star wars" NOT (movie OR film OR cinema OR "motion picture")
"zora neale hurston" AND (correspondence OR letter* OR diar* OR autobiograph* OR memoir*)