Liberty Magazine Historical Archive, 1924–1950
Gale, part of Cengage Learning;
to request a free trial please go to galetrials.com
- By Cheryl LaGuardia
content The Liberty Magazine Historical Archive, 1924–1950, is the digitized file of the complete, full-color, 26-year run of Liberty Magazine: A Weekly for Everybody, founded in 1924 by Joseph Patterson (publisher of the New York Daily News) and Robert McCormick (publisher of the Chicago Tribune). The file holds more than 17,000 fiction and nonfiction items, including adventure stories; features; biographies and autobiographies; “Continued Next Week” series stories; human interest pieces; humor; love stories; mystery, suspense, and spy tales; short-short stories (about 1,000 words); Westerns; World War I and II narratives; as well as artwork, including 1,300-plus full-color covers, more than 10,000 illustrations, and thousands of advertisements from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.
The magazine focuses on “the everyday lives of working-class and middle-class America,” and contributors include a who’s who of artists and writers from the period, such as James Montgomery Flagg, Peter Arno, Walt Disney, Robert Benchley, Paul Gallico, John Galsworthy, Louis Bromfield, Dashiell Hammett, P.G. Wodehouse, George Bernard Shaw, Agatha Christie, Dr. Seuss, H.L. Mencken, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mohandas K. Gandhi, Winston Churchill, W.C. Fields, H.G. Wells, Albert Einstein, Mary Pickford, Jean Harlow, Mae West, Greta Garbo, Leon Trotsky, Benito Mussolini, Al Capone, and Babe Ruth, to name but a few. This file will eventually be combined with Gale’s other 20th-century newspaper resources in the Gale NewsVault.
Usability The opening screen shows a title bar with: “Liberty Magazine, 1924–1950” accompanied by the stylized logo “Liberty: The Stories Never Die!” Below these is a toolbar with buttons for home, advanced search, and browse. Several articles are highlighted using thumbnail images of their opening pages; at the time of this review these include: “Hell or Heaven after Forty” by Margot Hulbert, February 4, 1939; “Is DiMaggio Baseball’s Wonder Man?” by Daniel M. Daniel, April 16, 1938; and “Styles That Will Make You Look Slender” by Corinne Lowe, February 7, 1925. (I spent some time perusing this last, where I learned that “A tight-fitting sleeve should be regarded as apprehensively by the woman of embonpoint as a lurid color or a chocolate cream.”)
I’d swap the two lower portions of screen real estate, putting the “About Liberty” and “Search the Archive” section above the section that highlights three articles at a time—it makes better sense to put searching front and center.
A window at screen left offers a brief history of the magazine, and, at screen right is a box for searching the archive. Radio buttons allow patrons to choose to search the entire document or search by keyword, and there are boxes that allow the specification of publication date(s). Below these is the advice: “For more detailed options try Advanced Search and try Browse by Date or Browse Contributor or Browse Artist.”
After selecting “Browse Contributor,” I got a screen in which the three original action buttons were displayed (home, advanced search, and browse) with a simple search box added at the end of the toolbar. It is odd that this option isn’t included initially, at the home screen.
Below that toolbar is a simple search box to “Find Contributor”; it’s also possible to use an alphabet wheel to select a letter or to page through an alphabetical list of contributors. I did what I often do with files covering this time period: a simple search of contributors for: LaGuardia. That brought up: LaGuardia, Fiorello H., the late mayor of New York, and when I clicked on his name I got two articles contributed by the Little Flower: “What Will the Republican Progressives Do?” from April 25, 1936, and “If Our Coast Cities Are Bombed,” from November 8, 1941 (frighteningly prescient).
Back at the home screen I searched the archive for Fiorello LaGuardia and got 40 results. Scanning through the list I came upon a four-page article from May 5, 1945, recounting a day in his life, titled “Everybody Knows the Mayor,” by Lost Generation writer John Dos Passos. Impressive. The quality of the scans here is outstanding; they are extraordinarily legible and include every mark on the page (even slight tears in the paper can be seen, although they in no way affect the readability of the articles).
An advanced search for Gracie Allen and George Burns turned up 26 results, including a July 8, 1933 review of their movie International House (it got only two stars from columnist Rob Wagner). While reading that review, I came across an “Off the Screen” column written by Harriet Parsons, dishing about Constance Bennett and Gilbert Roland, Sally Eilers and Hoot Gibson, and Clark Gable hunting bears in Wyoming. I cannot imagine where else I’d be able to find this kind of timely gossip from that era!
I returned to the advanced search screen and took a better look at it. In addition to the typical three rows for searching, users can specify desired results in a number of very useful ways: by publication date, of course, but results may also be limited to advertising, or “Stories & Articles” (adventure, biographies, autobiographies, human interest, etc.) to cover and table of contents, and articles with illustrations only (cartoon, chart, drawing, painting, map, or photograph).
My search for material on nurses, limited to cover items, found the November 17, 1945 cover with the teaser line “Now it can be told—what really happened to the Bataan nurses.” I had to see what that said, so I went into browse by date, plugged in 1945, then selected the November 17 issue. Pulling up the table of contents, I found the article “What Did Not Happen to the Bataan Nurses,” by Captain Rosemary Hogan of the Army Nurse Corps. Sensational headlines span the years, apparently. And the most useful item of all? My advanced search for pieces mentioning the term “vacuum cleaner” and limited to advertising pulled up 93 ads from 1924 to 1949.
Pricing Pricing is determined by the size and type of institution. The one-time fee for the archive starts at $1,650 with a $17 annual hosting fee.
verdict The day-to-day details of middle-class living that are indexed here are amazing. The database is highly recommended for public, academic, and special libraries everywhere. This file will be a boon to students and frontline librarians for the ads alone.
Cheryl LaGuardia is a Research Librarian for the Widener Library at Harvard University and author of Becoming a Library Teacher (Neal-Schuman, 2000). Readers can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Political Stats
CQ Press; an imprint of SAGE;
- By Bonnie J.M. Swoger
Content U.S. Political Stats applies the modern elements of other statistical databases to political statistics. The database allows users to explore, visualize, and export statistics on campaign finances, floor votes, Supreme Court cases, politician biographies, interest group scores elections, demographics, and more.
Campaign finance data from the 2008 election cycle to the present is available. Users can dig into details associated with particular officials (Senator Rand Paul collected over $7 million from individuals for his 2010 campaign), or explore aggregate data (candidates contributed over $40 million total to their own campaigns in 2012).
Floor votes can be explored by particular pieces of legislation (HR967 passed 406 to 10 in 2013), or by topic (there were 8 floor votes in the Senate related to education in 2013). Roll call information comes from CQ Weekly which is clearly indicated under “source.”
Users can investigate brief biographies of elected federal officials, as well as examine aggregate data for congress as a whole. The database is missing a “Find your representatives” feature, which could be useful for identifying the representatives for particular locations. Data about congress extends back to 1959 but not in all cases. The resource also compiles demographic data about elected federal officials, allowing users to explore how few representatives have backgrounds in science, how few senators are African American (three in 2013), and how few representatives are female (81 for the 113rd Congress).
Broader demographic data from the U.S. Census is included and divided by voting districts. Users can explore the education, race, and ancestry of district residents, as well as find out information about home values and the distribution of urban vs. rural areas.
U.S. Political Stats provides statistics about Supreme Court cases—generally the vote tally for each case. Summary statistics illustrate how often the court is unanimous or highly divided (5-4 rulings). Patrons can also look up individual cases to find out about the vote. Unfortunately, the database provides little context for each case beyond the title. While one can discover that the court ruled 5-4 on the 2013 case of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, for example, it isn’t possible to tell who the ruling favored, or any details about the case.
Most of the data here is freely available from other government sources, including the U.S. Census, Congress.gov, the FEC, etc. The benefit of U.S. Political Stats is that these data are all incorporated into one platform, and the visualization tools makes the information easy to find and interpret.
Usability U.S. Political Stats is a convenient database to explore. The main homepage includes easy access to the list of data categories, as well as some featured data sets. A navigation menu at the top of each page also provides access to the list of data categories. In addition, the navigation menu allows users to focus on particular people, policies, or locations.
The material can be searched via a “Quick search” at the top of each page or an available “Advanced search.” The advanced search allows users to enter their query terms, then allows them to select a data category (campaign finances, biographical information, demographics, etc.), policy category (e.g. budget & taxation, defense & national security, foreign policy, etc.) or branch of government (congress, the presidency or the Supreme Court).
Although the advanced search is available with a quick click from each page, U.S. Political Stats is made for browsing. Clicking on any of the data categories will bring up a sample data set and a guided search tool. For example, clicking on “Campaign Finances” brings users to a page with a “What’s Inside” section showcasing one of the data sets, the campaign finance breakdown for Rand Paul’s 2010 senatorial campaign. Beneath this sample data set is the ability to search within the Campaign Finance category and option to browse the category in two ways: by office (House, Senate, or President) or by person.
Once the user selects a category, drop down boxes appear for subcategories. This guided search strategy helps users understand the types of data available in U.S. Political Stats, and can be quite helpful for those who aren’t quite sure which terms to use in their search. Patrons also benefit from links to related data sets on each data-set page.
Also setting U.S. Political Stats apart from the freely available government sources is the way the database allows users to visualize and manipulate data. Depending on the data type, researchers can view maps, pie charts, bar charts and line graphs. These graphs and charts are interactive, allowing users to drill down into the data. Some maps and charts can become animated visualizations, showing changing numbers over time. Many maps and charts allow users to compare various data sets. It’s possible to view a line graph of the consumer price index over time, then add a series illustrating the consumer price index for gas and electricity during the same time. Vitally, patrons can download high quality PNG images. Downloaded images include descriptive titles and source information. Users can also view data in a table format, and can export tabular data as Excel or CSV files for later analysis.
Pricing Pricing starts at $3,974 for a subscription and $14,450 for purchase and is based on library size.
Verdict Because this resource contains data that (for the most part) is available freely elsewhere, this is not a database for a cash-strapped library. However, for academic institutions with political science programs that often need to track down political data or for special libraries associated with lobbying efforts, this may be a worthwhile time-saver.