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Compass Newsletter Masthead
   Volume IV, Issue 1
September 2007   

British Periodicals: "ground-breaking" digital archive for nineteenth-century studies acquired by Falvey

"Late in the sixties actors still had their costumes carried to and from the theatre in champagne baskets by the basket-boy." "Love and Lady Macbeth," by Clara Morris, Idler: an illustrated monthly magazine, 23 (1903:Sept.) p.190.
Falvey Memorial Library recently acquired the database, British Periodicals, which reproduces over 160 periodicals published from the seventeenth through the early twentieth centuries with a focus on the nineteenth century. This database allows for full-text searching, or one can browse through the entire run of a magazine, issue by issue.

Dr. Jill Rappoport and Dr. Deborah Thomas, English department faculty members, encouraged Falvey to subscribe to this important resource. According to Dr. Rappoport, "This digital archive is ground-breaking for nineteenth-century studies, finally making accessible for late Romanticists, Victorianists, modernists, and transatlantic scholars resources whose eighteenth-century equivalent has long been available through Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) and has absolutely transformed the ways in which that period is studied."

Last semester, Dr. Rappoport gave her students the option to use the then trial database for their final papers. She reports that "the resulting papers were excellent (and the students who wrote them were excited to do so and engaged in the process). One took the actress from Sherlock Holmes' famous "A Scandal in Bohemia" and compared (Arthur Conan) Doyle's portrayal of her to a contemporary article about Victorian actress Sarah Siddons, to suggest how Doyle's story played with popular perceptions of the theater. Another used an article about American Home Rule to discuss Doyle's portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan in "The Five Orange Pips."

Articles are retrieved as facsimiles of the originals; these facsimiles can be downloaded to one's own computer as .pdf files for future use. The range of articles available through British Periodicals includes contemporary accounts of major events, reviews of contemporary books, such as Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, and original printings of famous essays, such as Oscar Wilde's The Soul of Man under Socialism. One can also find articles giving British impressions of foreign events, such as the American Civil War. And, of course, there are articles on fascinating subjects such as sports and fashion.

In the "My Archive" section, one can save useful article records; from there one can also e-mail records or load the records into citation management software to produce a references cited list. With its wide range of topics, British Periodicals can be an essential primary sources tool for the study of Britain and the entire era.

Contributed by David Burke and Judy Olsen