Periodicals in the United States

“Periodicals” are newspapers, magazines, journals and similar publications that come out . well, periodically. I usually think about periodicals in the course of a day when someone asks me to get a copy of a particular issue or an article.

(Note: This entry focuses on the best general sources for finding periodicals. For more specific information on legal periodicals, see “Law Reviews and Law Journals.” For more specific information about newspapers and news magazines, search “News – Newspapers & Magazines” as a Subject.)

Getting articles online: A good way to find if a periodical is online is to use the freeJenkins Journal Portal, which covers most of the major legal database vendors (Lexis, Westlaw, HeinOnline, etc.) plus Internet sites, the W&L Law Journal Finder or UNC E-Journal Finder. If you subscribe, Fulltext Sources Online is even more comprehensive. Alternatively, you can check the database directories for Lexis, Westlaw, Hein, etc.

You can also check the Internet document delivery services, such as Ingenta or OCLC’s Electronic Collections Online or Google Scholar.

Getting issues or articles from other libraries: If I need an entire issue, or if I can find an article online, I’ll generally try to borrow the issue or get a copy of the article from another library. To find out which libraries have a periodical, some researchers:

  • Look in a regional Union List. Regional Union Lists are often compiled by Chapters of the American Association of Law Libraries (; or
  • Check online catalogs of libraries that might lend you an issue or copy articles. You may already know the likely libraries. If not, see entries for “Document Delivery Services” and/or “Libraries” in this legal Encyclopedia for some suggestions; or
  • Search WorldCat, a nation-wide union list.

To get copies of a particular article from another library, you’ll have to know when & where it appeared. If you don’t already have this information, check out the discussionof Bibliographic Information, below.

Buying: If the online sources and other libraries don’t do the trick, I’ll try to buy the issue. You can generally get current issues from a news stand or the publisher. To buy a back issue of a magazine, call a store that sells back issues — there’s a good list of stores posted at For newspapers, try Historic Newspaper Archives (1-800-221-3221) or, for New York newspapers from the past 6 months, Dependable Delivery (212-586-5552) — or call the publisher. To find out who the publisher is, use the sources listed under Bibliographic Information, below.

You can also buy issues from online stores, such the United States Book Exchange (

Bibliographic Information: The “bibliographic information” for an article is the stuff you need to make a citation – the name of the journal where the article appeared, the volume/issue/page numbers, and the date of publication.

If you can find the full text of an article online, you’ll usually get the bibliographic information too. But sometimes you don’t want the full text, or you might not want to pay the cost of buying it online, or you may not be able to find the article online. In any of these cases, you might want to get bibliographic information from .

(A) The online document delivery services discussed above. I especially like to use Ingenta because they don’t charge for searching or looking up citations. You pay only if you buy the article.

(B) The Internet. The Web sites for many periodicals post the table of contents of current and back issues, even if they don’t give the full text.

(C) A periodical index. The most common periodical index is the Reader’s Guide to Periodicals, which is available in most public libraries. Other useful indexes include theMagazine Index, which is available on Lexis, and the Alternative Press Index, which indexes alternative periodicals like the Village Voice, the Boston Phoenix, etc.

There are also subject-specific periodical indexes, such as ERIC for eduction (ProQuest Dialog). There are also some source-specific indexes, such as The New York Times Index and/or The Wall Street Journal Index. These indexes are available in many public and business libraries.

If you don’t know where a particular periodical is indexed, you may want to look up the title in Ulrich’s International Periodical Directory. Ulrich’s often tells you where a given serial is indexed (e.g., Art Abstracts). The print version of Ulrich’s is available in many libraries.

(D) The publisher. Just call up and ask. If you don’t know the publisher or the publisher’s telephone number, you can probably find it in:

  • The publisher’s web site. You can find the web site with any good search engine.
  • A periodical directory, such as Ulrich’s International Periodical Directory, which is available in print in most public libraries and on Dialog File 480, or The Oxbridge Standard Periodical Directory;
  • Oxbridge’s free Mediafinder, which includes telephone numbers and Internet links in the “Research” section;
  • , which tells you pretty much the same information you’ll find in Ulrich’s;
  • The online catalog of any library that has the serial.

See Also

Law Reviews
Law Journals
Trade Journals

New York Real Property Texts and Periodicals Database

This is a database related to interests in and transfers of real estate, in the following material: State Treatises, Forms, and Practice Guides. A description of this real estate database is provided below:

Documents that relate to interests in and transfers of real property from publications covering issues of national interest, as well as issues of special interest to New York attorneys, including landlord-tenant issues, matters relating to cooperatives, and zoning issues.

Further information on United States legal research databases, including real property databases, are provided following the former link.

Real Property Texts and Periodicals Database

This is a database related to interests in and transfers of real estate, in the following material: General Treatises, Forms, and Practice Guides. A description of this real estate database is provided below:

Documents from West-published texts and periodicals that relate to interests in and transfers of real property, including related legal forms from American Jurisprudence Legal Forms 2d, Nichols Cyclopedia of Legal Forms Annotated, and West's Legal Forms. Coverage varies by publication.

Further information on United States legal research databases, including real property databases, are provided following the former link.

Periodicals: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Periodicals. This part provides references, in relation to Periodicals, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Periodicals by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Periodicals and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Periodicals or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Periodicals and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Periodicals. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Periodicals should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Periodicals when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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