New resources for American history

Cambridge University Library and the Seeley Historical Library are delighted to announce three major new acquisitions of online archives for the study of American history in the University.

From June 2019 the University has access (on and off campus) to the Congressional Research Digital Collection, the Congressional Record Permanent Digital Collection, and the Chicago Tribune in the Historical Newspapers series, all published by ProQuest, via the following links.

To promote the new resources in your library download and print the “New eResources in American History” A3 format poster.


Congressional Research Digital Collection

The CRDC is a collection of research materials – CRS Reports and Committee Prints – created for Congress.

CRS, the Congressional Research Service, is known as research arm of the United States Congress.  CRS issues thousands of reports each year on issues of interest to Congress.

Committee prints are publications pre­pared for the use of a specific committee so often are working stud­ies or compilations of articles prepared in the course of formulating legislation.

This material is often the first place you’ll find topics in the news, and because prints or reports might review pending legislation, or a government program, you’ll find them issued throughout the legislative process.   Material in CRDC can be used for many purposes:  to answer a reference question, create a chronology of events, to come up to speed on a topic, or to see what a proposal was at a specific point in time.

For more help on searching the CRDC visit the ProQuest LibGuide here.

The Congressional Research Digital Collection is available via the Cambridge LibGuides Databases A-Z.


Congressional Record Permanent Digital Collection

The Congressional Record Permanent Digital Collection comprises the Congressional Record (beginning in 1873 and currently available through 2009), and the predecessor titles including the Congressional Globe (1833-1873), the Register of Debates in Congress (1824-1837), and the Annals of Congress (1789-1824).

Help with searching the Congressional Record can be found on the Advanced Search Techniques section of the ProQuest LibGuide here.  ProQuest is currently re-designing the Congressional platform to improve its search capabilities and the “Congress in Context” feature.  For updates on the development over summer 2019 see this page.

The Congressional Record Permanent Digital Collection is available via the Cambridge LibGuides Databases A-Z.


Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune provided detailed accounts of the Great Fire of 1871, which killed hundreds, nearly destroyed the city, resulted in many reforms, and spurred new growth. In 1893 and 1909, the newspaper’s special Chicago Jubilee issues described and celebrated the city’s tremendous progress. It also reported on the Progressive Movement, followed the works of Nobel Peace Prize-winning social reformer Jane Addams, exposed the activities of mobsters like Al Capone, and reported on the city’s machine politics. To incisively convey ideas, opinions, and emotions, the Chicago Tribune relied on Pulitzer Prizewinning John T. McCutcheon’s editorial cartoons.

Readers can study the progression of issues over time by browsing issues of the Chicago Tribune, which offers coverage of 1849-1995, including news articles, photos, advertisements, classified ads, obituaries, cartoons, and more.

The Chicago Tribune is findable via iDiscover, the Cambridge LibGuides Databases A-Z, the eresources Overseas and foreign language newspapers page, and the Newspapers LibGuide.


A flavour of the Congressional Research Digital Collection

Buzz salutes the U.S. Flag. (Wikimedia Commons)

“I believe we should go to the moon.” — President Kennedy, May 25, 1961, 87-1 (1961), HOUSE: VOLUME 107; (8877-8915) P. 8877.  Permalink.


More resources in American history

The study of American history is also supported by the University Library’s provision of access to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post in the Historial Newspapers series and the 19th century United States Newspapers archive and the Early American Newspapers archive, as well as the United States Declassified Documents Online service:

New York Times

Wall Street Journal

Washington Post

19th century U.S. Newspapers Archive

Early American Newspapers Archive

United States Declassified Documents Online

For other resources in American politics and history, please visit the Cambridge LibGuides A-Z page here.  And the Seeley Historical Library Tripos pages here and here.

Trial access: Wiley Digital Archives

The University of Cambridge has trial access to the new Wiley Digital Archives platform on campus only via this link until 4 July 2018.

Please let us know what you think of this resource by writing to  Thank you.

Wiley’s new Digital Archives offers access to the extensive archives of many of the societies Wiley currently works with to publish their content.  This is not journal backfile content but all of the records, letters, articles, photographs, data etc. that you would expect to find in such archives.

The initial digitizations are of the Royal  Anthropological Institute’s and the New York Academy of Science’s archives.

New Russian and Ukrainian historic and rare newspaper archives online: Niva digital archive, Vestnik Evropy archive; and, Donetsk and Luhansk collection

The University Library is delighted to introduce to Cambridge three new digital archives from East View.


Niva digital archive

Niva, an illustrated weekly journal of literature, politics and modern life was the most popular magazine of the late-nineteenth-century Russia. It was published from 1870 to 1918 in St.Petersburg. The journal was widely read by an audience that extended from primary schoolteachers, rural parish priests, and the urban middle class to the gentry. It contained large colored prints of art by famous Russian artists. The journal had a section on Russian classical writers: Gogol, Lermontov, Goncharov, Dostoevsky, Chekhov and many others. By the early 20th century Niva had a circulation of over 200,000.

Vestnik Evropy archive

One of the first Russian literary and political journal. Together with literature and arts the journal enlightened its readers on problems of internal and foreign policy of Russia, history and political life of foreign countries. It became conservative since 1815

Donetsk and Luhansk collection

This database incorporates 10 newspapers from the self-proclaimed “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk in the east of Ukraine from 2013 to 2015. Newspapers in this database cover the earliest period of the ongoing armed conflict between the Russian-backed militants and the Ukrainian state and contain valuable research material from relatively inaccessible, war-torn areas. The database contains contains issues from the following titles: Boevoe znamia DonbassaBoevoi listok NovorossiiDonetsk vecherniiEdinstvoNasha gazetaNovorossiiaVostochnyi DonbassXXI vekZaria Donbassa, and Zhizn’ Luganska.


Nineteenth century U.S. Newspapers

The University Library is delighted to announce members of the University now have full online access to the digital archive Nineteenth century U.S. Newspapers.

The archive can be accessed via this link or via the eresources@cambridge index and subject pages or via the LibGuides A-ZTitles in the archive will also be searchable in the ejournals@cambridge A-Z and in iDiscover shortly.

The archive content can be searched alternatively via the new Artemis Primary Sources platform either in isolation or in combination with the other digital archives available from Gale Cengage licensed to the University.  Work is in progress by ProQuest to enable searching of the  full text of the archive content via iDiscover.

The archive comprises digital facsimile images of both full pages and clipped articles for hundreds of 19th century U.S. newspapers and advanced searching capabilities. For each issue, the newspaper is captured from cover-to-cover, providing access to every article, advertisement and illustration.

As compelling as it is comprehensive,  Nineteenth century U.S. Newspapers provides access to primary source newspaper content from the 19th century, featuring full-text content and images from numerous newspapers from a range of urban and rural regions throughout the U.S. The collection encompasses the entire 19th century, with an emphasis on such topics as the American Civil War, African-American culture and history, Western migration and Antebellum-era life, among other subjects.

This full-text searchable, facsimile-image database makes experiencing historical events, daily life and 19th-century American culture as easy as clicking a mouse.   Nineteenth century U.S. Newspapers provides easy access to seemingly endless information and primary resources — the vast majority of which have never before been accessible online.


Citizens of North Carolina, awake! An invasion of your liberties is threatened, and as public sentinels, we should be recreant to our trust, did we not promptly sound the tocsin of alarm. There are those at the seat of Government, who are seeking to load the people by chains, by corrupting their government, and bringing them under the surveillance of the Albany Regency.  An insidious and artful attempt has been made by some skulking birds of the night, owl-like beings, who dare not show their faces in open day to their fellow men, to dupe the Legislature of North Carolina – to draw it, by the mere force of a name, into that filthy vortex of political corruption, the caucusing system…

(United States Telegraph (Washington, DC) December 6, 1832, issue 290)


Mass Observation Online

The University Library is delighted to announce access is now available for the University of Cambridge to Mass Observation Online.

Mass Observation Online makes available original manuscript and typescript papers created and collected by the Mass Observation organisation, as well as printed publications, photographs and interactive features. A pioneering social research organisation, Mass Observation was founded in 1937 by anthropologist Tom Harrisson, film-maker Humphrey Jennings and poet Charles Madge. Their aim was to create an ‘anthropology of ourselves’, and by recruiting a team of observers and a panel of volunteer writers they studied the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain. This resource covers the original Mass Observation project, the bulk of which was carried out from 1937 until the mid-1950s, offering an unparalleled insight into everyday life in Britain during these transformative years.

The vast content of the Archive can be divided into two main types: material collected by investigators, and material submitted by volunteers. This raw data was, in turn, summarised in the file reports (or in a few cases, the official publications). The material collected by investigators comprises thematic studies, undertaken by paid ‘observers’, and comprising surveys, collections of ephemera, accounts of ‘overheards’ and covert observations of the general public. The material submitted by volunteers, on the other hand, are deeply personal accounts of individual lives provided by the amateur observers from MO’s ‘National Panel’. The duality apparent in these two opposing methods of data collection was present from the very beginning of Mass Observation’s conception, and has been attributed to the conflicting aims of the co-founders of Mass Observation, Tom Harrisson and Charles Madge. From the very start Mass Observation’s methods were divided: Harrisson taking his anthropological, scientific approach to Bolton for the Worktown study, in which the invisibility of the Mass Observation observer was essential, while Madge remained in London to build up the collection of diaries and personal writings from the volunteer National Panel.

The Archive of Mass Observation, a pioneering social research resource, provides access to around 115,000 digital images of material generated by mass observation between 1937 and 1949, with a few later additions from the 1950s and 1960s.

This is an invaluable resource for sociologists, cultural historians and a wide range of other disciplines.

Pamela Slater of 8 Wellgarth Rd N & W. II Single Architect 25, writes [on Monday 8, July, 1940, two months to the day before the first mass air raid on London on 7 September]:

Started new architectural job at London Bridge …

Had lunch with caretaker of the building and her husband where I work-she is sure that London is not going to get bombed “has said so all along!” Much talk about new tea rationing-most people philosophical about it- doesn’t affect me as I don’t care for the stuff.

I can’t bear to think about France – its like having to get used to the idea of a great friend suddenly dying of hidden cancer-till now unsuspected.  What satisfaction can be felt at the Navy’s action against the French fleet, it just makes one feel sick inside.

In lunch time today I walked along Eastcheap to Tower HIll where hundreds of people were standing round a tough, shirt-sleeved, perspiring individual high up on a buttress wall of the higher terrace.  After listening to him with much enjoyment for some time I realised that he must be the famous Donald Soper who I have only seen once before, respectably churchy at a public meeting.  He was grand- held the audience in the hollow of his hand, and kept everyone good-tempered inspte of saying all the time exactly what he wanted to say.  A wind was blowing over the Thames and, what with the new atmosphere of city workers in black coats, and the smells of warfs and granaries and store houses unimaginable goods, I came back to work most cheerfully.  It is really a sign of something healthy in our civilisation that in wartime a pacifist can stand up and talk Christian Pacifism for an hour to a mixed audience and get down amid the affectionate plaudits of that audience.

Krokodil digital archive

The University of Cambridge has trial access to the Krokodil digital archive until 15 May 2015.

Access the trial of Krokodil via this link

The essay below by John Etty of the University of Leeds describes the history and importance of the Krokodil magazine.

Visit also the Krokodil magazine blog here.

‘Red Crocodile: the Bravest of the Brave!’

On 27 August 1922, Krokodil (the Crocodile) magazine was published as an independent publication for the first time. Bursting from its front cover was a snarling red crocodile, an avatar that has symbolised the magazine and its brand of political satire ever since. Over the years, Krokodil’s list of editors and contributors included many of the Soviet Union’s literary luminaries and esteemed artists. Vladimir Mayakovsky, Mikail Kol’tsov, Ilf and Petrov, Samuil Marshak, Mikhail Zoshchenko, Sergei Mikhalkov and Lyudmila Petrushevskaya all wrote for Krokodil; Dmitri Moor, Mikhail Cheremnykh, Boris Efimov, the Kukrynisksy trio, and Ivan Semenov all created cartoons. In the first issue Demyan Bednyi defined the magazine’s aims: ‘To reach any rottenness/And to stir rot without any mercy,/So that the NEP sludge does not flower,/And is not rotten./Here is the task of the Red Crocodile!’ (‘Dobirat’sia do vsiakoi gnilosti/I voroshit’ gnil’ bez vsiakoi milosti,/Chtob NEPovskaya mut’ ne tsvela,/I ne gnila./Vot kakova zadacha Krasnovo Krokodila!)

Krokodil was not unique in the 1920s—numerous satirical publications existed in the USSR at this time—but by the end of the 1920s, practical difficulties (including paper shortages), party efforts to reduce ‘parallelism’ (the existence of multiple publications with identical aims and methods) and ideological attacks combined to force all other union-wide satirical journals to close down. Before 1941, circulation remained around 300,000, but in the post-war period it peaked at around 5.8 million (in 1980) and was firmly established as one of the leading publications in the Soviet Union. In form, apart from variations in publication dates, issue numbers and length, Krokodil remained essentially unaltered until its final issue in 1991. Admonished in 1948 by a Central Committee decree, the Editorial Board regularized production so that for the majority of the postwar period, the magazine was a sixteen-page, four-color journal, published thirty-six times annually (on the 10th, 20th and 30th of each month), on newsprint paper. Satirical content was mainly found in political cartoons and poems, but also in articles, letters, feuilletons and other genres.

Its status, as the only satirical journal published in the USSR, under direct Party control after 1932, leads to fundamental but as yet unexplored questions about the function of state-sponsored visual satire, official humor and popular responses to it, about artistic independence and working practices, and about the real extent of Krokodil’s popularity. Readers’ contributions, in the form of letters, cartoons and competition entries, and subscription numbers, but in the absence of empirical audience research and an accessible archive, the text itself remains the best source on the magazine.

Krokodil emerged in the USSR at the moment of the creation of a national Soviet mass media, broadcast and communications systems, and its demise coincided with the expansion of the internet. Between these dates, Krokodil provided a mediated documentation of life in the USSR. The magazine often engaged with topics relating to the media and a fascination with the nature of the Soviet media system is evident in Krokodil’s texts and cartoons. Krokodil in fact represents an important and double-voiced discursive investigation of Soviet media and power: if it was not overtly critical of government policy or personalities, it was profoundly skeptical in its attitudes to the manifestations of Soviet modernism, despite being a product of Soviet modernity. It was critical of technology and over-mechanization, it ridiculed bureaucracy and excessive centralized control, and it was dubious about urbanization and collectivism. Perhaps more effectively than any other publication in the USSR, Krokodil fulfilled the social role of Soviet media imagined by Lenin when he outlined the newspaper’s importance in On Party Organisation and Party Literature (1905). In the 1960s, the magazine routinely received around five hundred letters per day, and some of this correspondence was published in the magazine. Since Krokodil was a publication that was co-constructed by professional and amateur producers, and the magazine may be understood as a mode of communication between government and populace. In a sense, since it was the result of collaboration between joint stakeholders, Krokodil may be understood as a kind of merged official-popular discourse.

Krokodil was an important creative force in the visual language of Soviet graphic satire. Each issue contained an average of twenty-five cartoons, and the magazine’s prolificacy, as well as its numerous similarities with poster art, ensured that its contributions to visual communication were significant. Krokodil is considered by some to represent a type of ‘proto-comic’, and indeed its reliance upon word-image constructions to communicate meaning is an important part of its exploration of semiosis. Krokodil is much less studied than other Soviet visual media but no less central or influential. The magazine’s ephemerality and its tendency towards repetitiousness have perhaps devalued it in the eyes of some scholars, but Krokodil provides an important perspective on the cultural shift away from logocentrism, a trajectory more commonly analyzed through literature and film.

In authoritarian regimes such as the USSR, humor is vitally important, and Krokodil’s humor is central to understanding the laughter in the Soviet Union. Soviet satire’s methods were mocking and ridiculing, and its targets were identified using Party ideology. The tone of its high profile, anti-western cartoons was didactic and aggressive, but a close study of Krokodil’s humor reveals a surprisingly playful approach that allowed for more interpretive freedom. A large and significant group of cartoon images satirized domestic topics, and it is important to acknowledge the range of political opinions embedded in them. Excavating dissident opinions and assuming perpetually faithful support would be two equally erroneous approaches to Soviet humor in Krokodil, since the magazine was always more complex. The function of affirmative official-popular satire, whether as a political weapon or as a social pressure valve, may be productively explored through Krokodil.

Krokodil had, and indeed it continues to have, a loyal following. Satirists and cartoonists of various political persuasions cite its influence. Fan sites on social media websites, repeated attempts to revive the magazine, media interest in the magazine, its anniversaries and individuals connected with it, and the ongoing publication of a 12-volume history of the twentieth century told through extracts, all testify to the ongoing interest in and nostalgia for the publication. The publication of this digital resource brings the magazine closer to a scholarly audience and offers the opportunity to fill in the gaps in our understanding, some of which are identified above, and to gain a better understanding of the intersection of media power, politics and humorous popular engagement in the Soviet context.

Digital Archive of Latin American and Caribbean Ephemera

New on eresources@cambridge A-Z: Digital Archive of Latin American and Caribbean Ephemera

The Digital Archive of Latin American and Caribbean Ephemera is the latest and most ambitious phase in Princeton’s long time commitment to building and providing access to its unparalleled Latin American Ephemera Collection. Open online access to this previously inaccessible subset of the collection became a reality in early 2015 thanks to the generous support provided by the Latin Americanist Research Resources Project (LARRP) and to a three-year starting grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The goal of Princeton and its partners is to continue adding hundreds of new digitized ephemeral items per month in the coming years and turn this vast and exceptional collection from a practically inaccessible archive into a dynamic scholarly resource that will support present and future academic activities in interdisciplinary Latin American Studies and in the broader social sciences and the humanities.

Even though a significant number of items from earlier years have been included, the bulk of the materials currently found in the Digital Archive were originally created around the turn of the 20th century and after, with some originating as recently as within the last year. The formats or genre most commonly included are pamphlets, flyers, leaflets, brochures, posters, stickers, and postcards. These items were originally created by a wide array of social activists, non-governmental organizations, government agencies, political parties, public policy think tanks, and other types of organizations in order to publicize their views, positions, agendas, policies, events, and activities. The vast majority are rare, hard-to-find primary sources unavailable elsewhere.

Access the Archive via this link.