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British Periodicals Database

British Periodicals offers facsimile page images and searchable full text for nearly 500 British periodicals published from the 17th through the early 20th centuries.

About British Periodicals

Use the British Periodicals database to find primary documents published in hundreds of Brisith periodical publications dating from the 17th through the early 20th centuries. Page images include advertising, illustrations, front and back matter and other contextual information. Subjects covered include:

  • Science  
  • Popular culture
  • Literary Journalism
  • Essays and Belles-Lettres
  • Illustrated Periodicals  
  • Literary Criticism
  • Political Satire
  • Politics / Political Science
  • Fine Arts
  • Religion
  • Temperance
  • Sport...

Some Tips to Remember...

  • Use British spelling (but also try American English spellings). For instance, COLOR becomes COLOUR in British English. For a reminder of basic spelling differences, see the Oxford Dictionaries' British and American Spelling page.
  • The form, use, and meaning of words change over time.  For instance, try searching ETHNICITY and then try ETHNIC.  See the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) to see how words have been used in different eras.
  • For searches that return too many hits, remember all the ways you can narrow your search by using options in the right-hand margin on your results page:
    • by date (choose fewer decades)
    • by document type (article, or advertisement, or fiction, or...)
    • and by publication title or publication subject
  • Use the Modify Search button to go back and add or change terms in your original search
  • For more search help, see the Proquest Search Tips link in the database or go to Ask A Librarian

Beginning Your Research in British Periodicals

  • To get started, connect to the British Periodicals database through the MSU Library. Then type in a keyword or two, putting separate concepts in separate boxes:

  • Take a look at your relavancy ranked results list -- you may find that you have a huge set of article citations returned from your search:

  • Look at the first screen of results and see if you are pulling up titles that sound interesting or useful for your topic. Look at the  button to find out more about documents. Look at the link to find out even more information about the publication.
  • Consider the characteristics of the best hits in your results list: are they a specific publication or year range? Do they contain specific words in their titles? Are they by a recurring author? You can now experiment with some of these characteristics to MODIFY your search (see the "modify search" link below the search bar at the top of the results page) or NARROW your results (see the box along the right-hand margin of your results page).

Refining Your Search

There are many ways to MODIFY your initial search:

  • You can change where in the records you search for your keywords.  For instance, the default is to find the words Anywhere they appear in the record/document. You can make your search more precise by requiring that your keyword appear in the Document Title instead of "anywhere." 


  • You can also add more terms to your search, remembering that the more terms you AND together, the smaller the results list; conversely, if you OR terms together (treating them as synonyms), the larger the results list.
  • Most importantly, to modify your search you should experiment with different terminology. Instead of "women" try "suffragettes," for instance. And don't forget to try the term "feminists" as well. Thinking around your topic, gleaning terminology from search results, using the OED -- all of these are ways to modify your search terminology to get at the best documents for your interests.

There are also many ways to NARROW your initial search:

  • You can choose a specific document type, such as Feature or Correspondence or Advertisement
  • You can choose to look only at articles from a specific publication title (such as Westminster Review) or from publications focused on particular subjects (such as literature)
  • You can also "Search Within" a set of results for an additional term
  • Most helpful is narrowing by publication date, either by choosing a range of decades or by entering a specific date range

Working with Documents

Once you have a set of results that reflects the topic you're researching, you want to start working with the documents -- seeing where your search terms appear in them, selecting or downloading documents to save, read, or print. Here are some tips for working with documents.

  • To explore the full text of a document in your results list in a way shows where your terms appeared in it, you can either click on the title of the article or on the icon.

Either choice brings you to an image of the first page of your document and some options for looking at the text. Note that in this view, your search terms are usually highlighted wherever they occur in the document, and the thumbnail icon allows you to see the pages where those terms are present.

  • To then download a document, mouse over “Export/Save,” select “PDF,” and then, in the window that opens, select “Full text,” whatever page range you like (generally you’ll want “All”), and “PDF.”