Scholars of American history and culture now have an important online resource available: American Periodicals from the Center for Research Libraries (APCRL), a digital collection of 375 popular and trade journals from the CRL collections.
Digitized in collaboration with ProQuest, APCRL provides a window into everyday America from the 1850s to the 1920s, when economic and cultural forces converged to create a complex modern society. The collection contains a wealth of material on industrial development, new technologies, and innovations in transportation and communications. Researchers can explore such topics as: rationing of rubber and other resources during World War I; the impact of automobiles on urban planning; or changes in merchandising of hardware goods.
As noted in the latest issue of CRL’s FOCUS on Global Resources, agricultural journals are well represented in APCRL. Potential research topics include land development patterns in the American west, and the shifting scale of the agrarian economy.
The popular magazines included in APCRL provide insights into significant social and cultural changes at the turn of the century. Articles on amateur portrait and nature photography, the ideal features of domestic architecture, or outdoor winter recreation suggest a growth in leisure activities. Specialized titles for a number of political and lifestyle movements include Vegetarian Magazine, Woman’s Protest against Woman Suffrage, The Theosophical Path, and Physical Culture.
CRL undertook the American Periodicals digitization project to provide electronic access to materials that have seen increasing use in recent years, and to protect the fragile originals from harm or loss through handling and use. The University of Pennsylvania filled some significant gaps in CRL holdings. All of the journals digitized are also available in digital format to CRL libraries through electronic interlibrary loan from CRL.
APCRL augments the literary and political journals in ProQuest’s American Periodicals Series (APS), and is available on the same platform. (Note that users may not readily recognize the presence of APCRL content within the “American Periodicals” interface currently: background details on the homepage reference only the original APS content. ProQuest is working to add information about the CRL initiative.) APCRL is distributed through ProQuest, with a purchase discount provided for CRL libraries.