During the "long 19th century," defined by historian Peter Stearns as the period between 1750 and 1914, Western institutions were reshaped by war, new industrial technologies, and more efficient communication and transportation. As Great Britain industrialized and the fledgling American republic grew into a force of enterprise and innovation, the modern world came barreling into existence.
The century's greatest inventions and events are memorialized in historians' writings, but there remain to be discovered countless unremarked, yet important, innovations and refinements in finance, manufacture, and trade.
While conducting their daily activities, bankers, manufacturers, railroad men, farmers and cattlemen, coal miners, oil drillers, wholesalers, and insurers all implemented real organizational and technological changes. Contemporary periodicals offer valuable detailed information about commercial and manufacturing activities and their evolution through incremental innovations. Researchers can follow these developments through study of specialized and more general periodicals dating from the early nineteenth century.
General commercial and financial publications are identified first, followed by those dedicated to specific industries. Many volumes of the periodicals described herein are available at HathiTrust Digital Library. HathiTrust is a partnership of academic and research institutions that offers access to millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world. Although some services are available only to users affiliated with partner institutions, anyone can search and access fully-viewable materials, as well as download them, in the absence of third-party restrictions. While some volumes are limited to "search-only" access, pages containing the search terms are viewable. HaithiTrust links are included in Library of Congress catalog records, but there is also a searchable catalog at the Hathi Trust External web site.
ProQuest American Periodicals provides access to two separate collections, American Periodicals Series Online (APS Online) and American Periodicals from the Center for Research Libraries (APCRL). These collections comprise digitized images from periodicals published between 1740 and 1940. ProQuest American Periodicals and its British Periodicals are commercial databases available to users at the Library of Congress and many other libraries.
Additional sections of this guide identify published indices and subscription databases useful to research in economic history. Although use of commercial electronic resources is limited to the Reading Rooms on the Library's campus, these resources may also be available at university and public libraries.
Part of the Science, Technology & Business Division at the Library of Congress, Business Reference Services is the starting point for conducting research at the Library of Congress in the subject areas of business and economics. Here, reference specialists in specific subject areas of business assist patrons in formulating search strategies and gaining access to the information and materials contained in the Library's rich collections of business and economics materials.