HarpWeek's indexes have been manually created and carefully formulated to be user-friendly in locating information quickly and concisely, with headings that will be immediately meaningful. These indexes can be searched individually or in combination. They effectively match out-of-date 19th century words, phrasing, and even spelling with today’s terminology and relevant classifications.

HarpWeek's subject index provides instantaneous information on domestic and foreign news, as well as related editorials, classified in a way that is meaningful to today’s scholars and students — and not available from any other primary source. Users can track the major political, cultural and military stories of the day, along with the editorial comment, humor, literature and even gossip that related to them.

Hundreds of personalities who were part of the Harper’s Weekly universe are profiled here; many are accompanied by portraits and/or cartoons unfamiliar even to today’s leading scholars.

Some of these leaders in the arts, government, religion, medicine, science, business, law and military affairs played major roles in shaping the dynamic events of the time, but have been ignored or minimized in subsequent biographical sources. The manner in which Harper’s Weekly mentioned (or fails to mention) important figures and events may be of great interest to today’s scholars.

As the leading illustrated periodical of its time, Harper’s Weekly used the best artists, photographers and cartoonists in the country. HarpWeek has recognized this by indexing illustrations by artist, photographer and cartoonist wherever identifiable.

Users can pull up a list of all of Winslow Homer’s illustrations, Mathew Brady’s portraits, Alfred Waud’s Civil War battle scenes, or Thomas Nasts’s cartoons in a few seconds, and then retrieve the relevant pages, reproduced with clarity that micro-film of Harper’s Weekly cannot come close to matching.

Users can search broad classifications like cartoons, maps, portraits and panoramic views. In addition, subject access allows for the retrieval of visual information on such entries as Confederate ships, cartoons about tobacco, violence against blacks, or women’s rights.

Harper’s Weekly may be best known as the home for the first American-run serialized novels by Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Wilkie Collins and Anthony Trollope. The short fiction and poetry recreated the daily lives of 19th century Americans, along with their concerns about family, love and marriage. Users will learn about the prevailing attitudes toward women, minorities and the poor. The Civil War had a profound impact on the home front, and the literature published by Harper’s Weekly illuminated that impact in its interpretation of various military, domestic and social aspects of the conflict. The post-war literature similarly sheds light on the Reconstruction period with its stories of shared hardship and reconciliation.

The index provides access to the literature by author, title, publisher and format (review, serial, etc.) With more than a thousand synopses, HarpWeek provides summaries of every piece of prose in Harper’s Weekly. In addition, a literary genre index allows the user to find such items as "humorous tales" or "patriotic verse." Another plus are the more than 1000 book reviews that can be readily referenced.

No previous indexing effort has cataloged every advertisement that appeared in a long-running 19th century periodical. They are classified by manufacturer, product category and brand and, where appropriate, by retailer. Some of the names like Singer, Bass Ale, Colgate, Lorillard Tobacco, Smith & Wesson, Steinway and Sons, Great American and Pacific Tea Company (A&P), Tiffany and Lord & Taylor are still here today.

Above all, the Advertising Index should have appeal for researchers and scholars with an interest in American Studies or Popular Culture. Users will be able to see how products such as sewing machines and proprietary medicines proliferated; how the Civil War inspired a flood of ads for guns, artificial legs, bullet-proof vests, heroes’ portraits and trinkets to send to the front; and how today’s advertising and promotion techniques were foreshadowed by endorsements, multiple positioning, premiums with purchase, and excessive repetition.

As advertising becomes more sophisticated during the Gilded Age, one can track the development of new products for beauty care and personal hygiene, and home appliances. The advent of the electric light brings nighttime hours to some retail establishments and changes the face of American life and American business. In the medical field, electro medical devices promise great relief from myriad ailments. Businesses like Colgate and Company and Pears Soap come to the fore, and Walter Baker and Company (now part of Kraft Foods) brings cocoa to the breakfast table.


Database Access: Indexing

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