Newspapers and Magazines

Image of newspaper clippings fileNewspapers are publications issued on a regular interval, usually daily or weekly, comprised of articles covering current events, opinion pieces, and numerous other topics. They have traditionally been printed on cheap paper stock, though most newspapers are now available online. Magazines are also issued periodically, though their content is not as tied to current events and they are generally printed on more expensive glossy or matte paper. Contemporary magazines can also generally be found online.

Newspapers and magazines contain a wealth of information useful to performing arts researchers, including articles on productions and performance venues, reviews, advertisements, images, and articles on people involved in the performing arts. Obituaries (notices written about someone on the occasion of their death) can include valuable biographical information.

One specific type of newspaper or magazine, the trade publication, is a publication geared towards a particular industry. Within the performing arts these publications might include information on auditions, financial predictions, biographies and obituaries not high profile enough for general publications, and much more. Examples include Variety and Billboard.

Individuals, as well as libraries and other organizations, would often cut articles of interest out of newspapers and magazines rather than retain the entire publication. Libraries refer to these as "clippings" or "cuttings" and they can be found in many collections within the Harvard Library system. Because most printed articles can now be found in online databases libraries tend not to actively collect clippings.

Searching for Newspaper and Magazine Articles

Given the vast amount of historical newspaper and magazine content that has been digitized, and the ability to perform very targeted searches on those collections, it's generally best to begin there.

Harvard Library's guide to full text newspaper sources gives a good overview of available resources. 

For the performing arts, the following databases are particularly useful:

  • ProQuest - Entertainment Industry Magazine Archive: Full text database for research in film, broadcasting, music, and theatre, from the era of vaudeville and silent movies to 2000. Especially good for finding industry trade periodicals and fanzines.
  • Performing Arts Periodicals Database: An index of articles and reviews from over 300 performing arts journals (1864-present), covering theater, film, dance, opera, and stagecraft, with full text for over 100 journals. TIP: use browse lists to select specific names or productions.

The Harvard Theatre Collection maintained newspaper clippings collections until 2010. In terms of time period, they are strongest from the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries. The largest and most generally useful of the clippings collections are:

These collections do not have finding aids. To request material from them, place a request through HOLLIS Special Request and include the name of the production or person that you are hoping to find.

Clippings may also be found in archival collections, such as a person's papers, or scrapbooks.