Periodicals Indexed

The SciPer Index covers runs of the following periodicals:

Belle Assemblée
Black Dwarf
Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine
Boy's Own Paper
Christian Observer
Comic Annual
Cornhill Magazine
Edinburgh Review
Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine
Harper's New Monthly Magazine (European edition)
Mirror of Literature
Review of Reviews
Wesleyan Methodist Magazine
Youth's Magazine
Duration of Periodical

1830–39, 1842
Dates Indexed

1830–39, 1842

In this latest version of SciPer, the majority of the articles are linked to open access sources. The current exceptions where periodicals are not freely available, or coverage is patchy, are: The Boy’s Own Paper; The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine; Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (European version); Review of Reviews (partial coverage), and Youth’s Magazine.

Choice of Periodicals

With many thousands of titles to choose from, any selection of nineteenth-century periodicals is inevitably partial. The periodicals chosen for inclusion in the SciPer Index are intended to reflect some of the broad phases in nineteenth-century periodical history, and they include a number of titles which are characteristic of new periodical genres developed in the period. Unlike many existing indexes (most obviously the Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals), the SciPer Index does not focus exclusively on the leading reviews and magazines but includes a range of distinct periodical genres intended for widely differing audiences. We have thus indexed radical, religious, and comic periodicals, and titles intended for women and children, in addition to more familiar reviews, miscellanies, and literary magazines.

The SciPer Index contains relatively short runs of a larger number of periodicals, rather than indexing long or complete runs of a smaller number. This decision was taken with a view to providing more wide-ranging insights into the ways in which different constituencies in nineteenth-century Britain appropriated and represented science, technology, and medicine. Usually, the date ranges chosen for indexing reflect a natural phase in the periodical's history: for example, a particular series of the periodical (e.g. Youth's Magazine), or the years in which it was associated with a certain editor or publisher (e.g. Cornhill Magazine). In some cases, however, the indexing years have no such justification and have been chosen to provide a snapshot of the periodical during a certain part of the nineteenth century (e.g. Edinburgh Review).

A Brief Overview

A large number of new periodical genres were developed in the first third of the nineteenth century. Founded in 1802, the Edinburgh Review was the archetype of the ideologically charged and intellectually authoritative quarterly review journal, and we have provided a small sample, indexing the first volume. A snapshot is also given of the early Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, founded in 1817. Between its first and second volumes, this monthly magazine was reconfigured from an Enlightenment repository of learning into something much more recognizably literary, which became the exemplar for many of the literary magazines of the nineteenth century.

The early part of the nineteenth century witnessed an explosion of periodicals for particular reading audiences. Some of these developments had begun in the previous century, but now grew out of all recognition. There had been magazines for ladies since the mid eighteenth century, but now the number of competing titles increased, and we have indexed a sample of a new title, the Belle Assemblée.

Religious magazines associated with particular religious groups also began to appear in the later eighteenth century. By 1829 Thomas Carlyle was complaining: 'Every little sect among us, Unitarians, Utilitarians, Anabaptists, Phrenologists, must have its periodical, its monthly or quarterly magazine—hanging out, like its windmill, into the popularis aura, to grind meal for the society.' One of the most successful of these was also one of the earliest—the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine, which in the 1810s and 1820s had twice the circulation of the Edinburgh Review. As a point of contrast, the SciPer Index also includes a snapshot of the Clapham Sect's Christian Observer, which was initially intended as a magazine for the Christian gentleman.

Another kind of religious magazine which came to prominence in this period was the religiously motivated magazine for children. Where purely commercial ventures had failed to achieve wide success, the Youth's Magazine, begun in 1805 by some of the organizers of the Sunday School Union, established itself as the first long-lasting children's periodical, and became the model for numerous others over succeeding decades. By the third series (which is included in the SciPer Index) the magazine had a print-run of around 10,000 copies.

The working-class literacy promoted by organizations like the Sunday School Union did not only lead to the expansion of the religious press. In the years after 1815, radical political periodicals achieved unparalleled success, led by the massive sales of the cheap edition of Cobbett's Political Register. While such periodicals were intially focused primarily on the immediate political exigencies of the tumultuous post-war period, they still made reference to contemporary science, technology, and medicine, and we have given a taste of this by indexing a volume of Thomas Wooler's Black Dwarf.

The success of cheap radical journals was brought to an abrupt hiatus by the imposition of repressive taxation in 1819, but some of those involved now turned their attention to cheap apolitical journals. The first of these to achieve significant success was the Mirror of Literature, Amusement and Instruction, a two-penny weekly miscellany which became the model for a host of imitators during the 1820s.

Another publishing phenomenon of the 1820s was the fashionable literary annual, beginning with the Forget Me Not in 1823. The poet Thomas Hood, however, combined this format with some of the literary humour of magazines like Blackwood's and the visual humour of comic prints, to produce a new kind of humorous periodical in his Comic Annual, the only periodical indexed in its entirety in the SciPer Index. Of course, the Comic Annual was an important antecedent of the most famous humorous periodical of the nineteenth century, namely Punch. The exceptionally long run of Punch included in the index reflects the great value of this periodical in providing insights into contemporary mores and perceptions.

Other periodical genres underwent development as the century progressed. Periodicals now not only addressed 'ladies', but also women of the middling ranks, and where the Belle Assemblée had once been interested in leisured intellectual recreations, the ideology of Victorian domestic labour came to dominance in such periodicals as the Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine.

The literary magazine was also by no means static. The inception of the fiction-based shilling monthly, with the commencement of the Cornhill Magazine in 1860 under the high-profile editorship of William Makepeace Thackeray, signalled the widening middle-class audience for magazines containing literary matter of a high quality. Another form of innovation took place in 1869 with the founding of Charles Appleton's Academy. Where scholarly debate had once taken place in monthly magazines intended for a broad-based educated readership, university reforms around mid-century spurred on a growing professionalization of the academy. These new standards of intellectual authority found expression in the Academy, an exceedingly ambitious monthly (later fortnightly) which ranged widely across the field of scholarship, seeking to give its readers access to the best of intellectual and scientific debate from across Europe and indeed the globe.

By 1880, the magazine market was also undergoing change in response to the growing internationalization of print. Harper's Monthly Magazine had been established in New York in 1850, intended for a broad-based audience with an appealing mixture of fiction and non-fiction articles. The decision to publish a European edition, in order to establish a foothold for the American publishers in the lucrative British market, resulted in a magazine which provides interesting insights into the cultural geography of science in the period. This growing trend to internationalization is also reflected in William Stead's Review of Reviews, a campaigning monthly established in 1890 which provided a readership numbering hundreds of thousands with abstracts of articles from a wide range of other periodicals. Using such techniques of North American journalism as 'talking headlines' and celebrity interviews, the Review of Reviews presented science in a highly accessibly style, inviting readers to contribute their own findings.