Friday, June 27, 2008

America's National Document of Freedom

America’s birthday ignited with a bang over 200 years ago, and this annual commemoration continues to this day with dazzling displays of fireworks showering over the sky punctuated by the rapid artillery of firecrackers. The 4th of July marks this nation’s freedom from the British monarchy which started with a document drafted by the forefathers of this nation.

The Declaration of Independence has preserved this nation’s freedom, established universal principles that defined the ideals supporting today’s egalitarian democracies, and inspired the pursuit of freedom and self-government worldwide. To catch a glimpse of America’s national document of freedom and witness the flamboyant John Hancock signature, check out this and other works of art with the Art Museum Image Gallery.

1. Go to the SFPL Home Page and select “Articles & Databases.” You will need a San Francisco Public Library card to access the databases from outside the Library.

2. Under the Categories side bar on the left, select “Art & Music” then “Art Museum Image Gallery.”

3. In the search box, enter the phrase “declaration of independence.”

4. Select any image and you will get a brief description of the art work, in which museum it is located, and subject headings and keywords under which the work is cataloged.

The Art Museum Image Gallery contains over 150,000 high quality fine and decorative art images and related multimedia from museums worldwide dating back to 3000 B.C. Images include cultures and time periods ranging from contemporary art, Native American and Inuit art, to ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian works, along with Japanese and Chinese works.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Follow the 2008 Election

November is just around the corner, which means that the 2008 Presidential election is going to be heating up soon. While we prefer not to talk about politics here at the Magazines and Newspapers Center reference desk, we're happy to talk about the ways that you can use our collection to get the latest news, polls, analysis, and other dirt from the campaign trail.

We have dozens of news and politics magazines. For example:

CQ Weekly is the premier source for coverage of the House and Senate. What does that have to do with the Presidential election? All of the likely Presidential candidates are U.S. Senators. CQ Weekly will tell you how they voted, what bills they're sponsoring, and what they're saying. It's a good way to check what the candidates do versus what they say.

Like CQ Weekly, National Journal is a D.C. insider magazine, but it has a broader focus. Expect campaign coverage and analysis here, but also look here for current political trends, polls, and analysis of significant issues that the next President will have to face. National Journal is also similar to CQ Weekly in that it's a bit on the wonky side: there is definitely an expectation that readers have a pretty sophisticated knowledge of the D.C. political scene.

Looking for something a little less, eh, technical? Many people find the best way to get a synopsis of the week in American politics is to turn to an English publication, the weekly magazine called The Economist. The Economist has a political bent that does not fit neatly into the American interpretation of right and left, but there is a definite editorial stance in favor of free trade and globalism. Regardless, the coverage is fairly extensive and it offers a valuable outsider perspective.

CQ Weekly and the National Journal strive for unbiased reporting, and The Economist isn't aligned with either major American political party. But what's the fun of a Presidential election without a little partisan mudslinging?

The view from the right is maybe most famously represented by the National Review, which was founded in 1955 by William F. Buckley, widely considered the father of modern conservatism. To the left, there is perhaps no better known weekly magazine than The Nation, founded in 1865 by abolitionists and continuously published since. Count on each of these magazines for strictly biased coverage of the political scene.

There are, of course, myriad political viewpoints, and San Francisco Public Library just may have magazines that speak to all of them. If the above magazines don't match your interests, stop by the Magazines and Newspapers Center reference desk and we'll see if we can find you something that does fit.

Or, you can try searching the catalog yourself and see what comes up. Here's one approach:

  1. Go to

  2. In the yellow "SFPL Online" box at the top left of the page, click on "more."

  3. Click on the link to search by subject.

  4. Type in "united states politics and government periodicals."
    This will bring up a list of all of the magazines and newsletters we have that have that subject heading.

    Happy politicking!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Online Source for Nineteenth Century Magazines

A number of full-text magazines are available online as part of a project called "The Nineteenth Century in Print: the Making of America in Books and Periodicals." This is part of the larger American Memory Project initiated by the Library of Congress and the National Digital Library Program.

Here is a description of this collection from the Web site:

"The Nineteenth Century in Print: The Making of America in Books and Periodicals represents a special collaboration among the Library of Congress and the libraries of the University of Michigan and Cornell University to make accessible a wide-ranging digital library of nineteenth-century American printed materials. It will comprise [of] primary documents of American history reflecting the broad domains of social and political history, education, psychology, sociology, religion, and science and technology as they developed throughout the antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction eras (1850-77). The collection also has special riches to offer readers interested in such areas as the nation's westward expansion, its poetry, the growth of professional forestry and landscape design, or Americans' abiding fascination with self-improvement."

The titles available on the University of Michigan Web site are:

American Jewess 1895 - 1899 (hosted on behalf of the Jewish Women's Archive)
Appleton's 1869 - 1881 (2 series)
Catholic World 1865 - 1901
DeBow's 1846 - 1869 + 1952 index (3 series)
Garden and Forest 1888 - 1897 (hosted on behalf of the Library of Congress)
Journal of the United States Association of Charcoal Iron Workers 1880-1891
Ladies Repository 1841 - 1876 (3 series)
The Old Guard 1864
Overland Monthly 1868 - 1900 (2 series)
Princeton Review 1831 - 1882 (3 series)
Southern Literary Messenger 1835 - 1864 + 1936 Contributor index
Southern Quarterly Review 1842 - 1857 (3 series)
Vanity Fair 1860 - 1862

The titles available on the Cornell University site are:

The American Missionary (1878 - 1901)
The American Whig Review (1845 - 1852)
The Atlantic Monthly (1857 - 1901)
The Bay State Monthly (1884 - 1886)
The Century (1881 - 1899)
The Continental Monthly (1862 - 1864)
The Galaxy (1866 - 1878)
Harper's New Monthly Magazine (1850 - 1899)
The International Monthly Magazine (1850 - 1852)
The Living Age (1844 - 1900)
Manufacturer and Builder (1869 - 1894)
The New England Magazine (1886 - 1900)
The New-England Magazine (1831 - 1835)
New Englander (1843 - 1892)
The North American Review (1815 - 1900)
The Old Guard (1863 - 1867)
Punchinello (1870)
Putnam's Monthly (1853 - 1870)
Scientific American (1846 - 1869)
Scribner's Magazine (1887 - 1896)
Scribner's Monthly (1870 - 1881)
The United States Democratic Review (1837 - 1859)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Road Less Travelled: News Sources Outside the Mainstream

Here in the Magazines and Newspapers Center, we see people every day who are using news sources to research just about any topic you can imagine, and with good reason. Books are a great way to get into a subject, but many researchers rely on the contemporary perspectives more commonly found in magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and periodicals for insight into the social, political, historical, and cultural context of the times and people that produced them.

The (fairly) recent acceptance of blogs and other new media as valid sources for news and political information is a reminder that we cannot always rely on major news outlets for a complete story. There are so many different perspectives out there that you can't rely on the New York Times and CNN to pick up everything. In addition, there are certain standards of journalistic objectivity that often prevent writers from interjecting their own experiences and identities into their work; sometimes, that perspective is just the thing to help a researcher capture the zeitgeist of a given time period.

There's a whole world of reporting and commentary that falls outside what we may consider the mainstream, including small press journals, independent newsletters and zines, and other publications representing the perspectives of different groups within the greater society. Here at the San Francisco Public Library, we have some tools to help you access these considerable resources:

The Alternative Press Index and the Alternative Press Index Archive represents a huge amount of independently published writing. This index has covered hundreds of publications for almost four decades. The focus here is radical politics, feminism, indigenous peoples, labor, and other topics generally on the left side of the political spectrum. The index is updated quarterly. Many titles link to our library holdings, and many can be found in the Underground Newspaper collection.

Ethnic Newswatch pulls articles from small press ethnic and minority publications. Find perspectives of various ethnic groups including African American, Arab American, Asian American, Eastern European, Jewish, Native American, and other multi-ethnic groups. Coverage goes back to 1960 and includes full-text access.

GenderWatch includes literature relating to LGBT studies, Women's Studies, Gender Studies, and Family Studies. While many of the titles are academic, there are also news and popular culture titles such as Off Our Backs and The Advocate. Includes indexing, full-text access, and coverage back to 1970.

LGBT Life is another database that features news and popular culture titles alongside more academic offerings. The focus here is on LGBT titles, with a few dozen titles comprehensively indexed and a couple thousand more indexed selectively. Articles are available full-text; historical coverage dips back into the 1950s!

Access to these databases is available through our Articles and Databases list. Here's a quick run-down of how to get to them:

1. Go to the SFPL Home Page and select “Articles & Databases.” You will need a San Francisco Public Library card to access the databases from outside the Library.

2. At the top of this page, click on "Alphabetical List."

3. Scroll down the list and connect to the title of your choice.

Remember, you may not be able to get immediate online access to that perfect article you find in one of these databases. If you find an article that you'd like to read but you can't find a copy, get in touch with the Magazines and Newspapers Center. We'll be happy to help you find a way to get a copy.