American Periodicals from the Center for Research Libraries (APCRL)

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    American Periodicals from the Center for Research Libraries (APCRL) is a digital collection of 375 popular and trade journals from Center for Research Library collections, digitized in collaboration with ProQuest.

    May 17, 2024 7:37pm
    Collection Content

    American Periodicals from the Center for Research Libraries (APCRL) is a digital collection of 375 popular and trade journals from Center for Research Library collections digitized in collaboration with ProQuest. 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 and titles.

    All of the APCRL content was scanned, cover-to-cover, directly from original volumes. All page scans are in color to capture instances of commercial color printing applications. Article text and illustration captions are OCR’d to facilitate searching.

    ProQuest and CRL staff selected titles from the mid-19th to the early 20th centuries from many fields.  They excluded journals already available in other digital collections, and made titles frequently requested by researchers at CRL libraries a priority. Most of the titles chosen ceased publication prior to the 1923 cutoff for public domain copyright status, but ProQuest negotiated rights with publishers to include some title runs up through the 1970s.

    The popular magazines included in APCRL provide insights into significant social and cultural changes at the turn of the last 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. Various professional and trade journals combine to provide a nuanced view of industrial development, new technologies, and innovations in transportation and communications. Researchers can explore topics including: the challenge of rubber shortages, especially during wartime; the impact of automobiles on urban planning; or changes in merchandising of hardware goods.

    The APCRL collection significantly augments the range of literary and political journals in ProQuest’s American Periodicals Series (APS), and is available on the same platform.


    APCRL is available on the updated platform ProQuest introduced in 2010. The basic search box offers auto-fill prompting of phrases and terms, apparently based on frequently searched items. (For instance, the phrase “benefits of lactation” is prompted when the keyword “lactation” is entered; articles retrieved include all those terms but not necessarily in order of the prompted phrase.) 

    Advance searches allow searching within specified fields including abstracts (few available), author, document title, and publication title. Searches can be limited by date and document type including a range of illustration types such as advertisement, comic, cover, illustration, or photograph. Page images can be viewed and saved in PDF format.

    Journals can be browsed by title, and the user can search text within a specified title. Browsing publications can also be directed by “source type," although the application of types is a bit murky: The American Journal of Obstetrics is classified as a “scholarly journal,” but American Journal of Urology is considered a “trade magazine,” and Boston Journal of Chemistry is simply a “magazine” (demonstrating the practical origins of chemistry). Likewise, it is not clear why Boiler Maker and Plate Fabricator is distinguished as an “historical periodical” when titles such as American Railroad Journal are classified as “trade magazines.”

    The updated ProQuest interface includes a term frequency analysis tool, which displays term appearance by decades or more narrowly specified date ranges. A search for “rubber” demonstrates its span of influence in technology and trade, with the highest levels of appearance occurring from the 1870s to the 1920s, dropping during the economic decline of the 1930s, rising during the wartime commodity shortages of the 1940s, and finally dwindling in prevalence by the 1960s when other materials emerged. Users registering a “My Research” account can tag articles and can choose to make the tags public to other users.


    APCRL is distributed through ProQuest, with a purchase discount provided for CRL libraries through the end of 2012. All of the journals digitized are also available in digital format to CRL libraries through electronic interlibrary loan from CRL.


    Center for Research Libraries

    • Virginia Kerr - Digital Program Manager
    Additional Reviews in Other Sources

    APCRL was reviewed in The Charleston Advisor, soon after launch of the database. Sara Davidson, “American Periodicals from the Center for Research Libraries,” The Charleston Advisor January 10, 2010, 11(3): 23-26, accessed December, 2012.

    Title List
    APCRL Title List (475.46 KB)

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