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Creative Writing: Time Period

A guide to research by Pratima Ghale at Mt. Holyoke College. Used with permission for students at Hollins University, using Wyndham Robertson Library.

History/ Events

Newspaper and magazine articles



  • LexisNexis Current newspapers, magazines, wire services, broadcast transcripts and blogs. International coverage.
  • Factiva Current newsapers, magazines, and TV/radio news


  • Book-length works on a time period (historical era or even the more recent past) are a good way to get a more substantial grasp of that period.  They may also suggest additional resources to check - make the author's research work for you!

History-specific Reference works

Culture/ Pop Culture

Library of Congress American Memory Project This web site is an online collection of "written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience." The web sites of cultural institutions like libraries, museums, and universities are good places to check for these kinds of collections (though you'll find not many offer collections quite as extensive as this one!).

Wikipedia (particularly good for current popular culture)

Visual culture/period imagery

Still Images (photos and art)

  • ARTstor - Art, Architecture and Design images
  • Grove-Art Image Collection (a subset of Oxford Art Online) - Art Images
  • Print resources: Search the library catalog for photo essays, books of photography and art, old magazines. The subject term sometimes used to describe these is “pictorial works.”
  • Google Image Search - search images online, use advance search to specify size, color, type, and license restrictions
  • Museum web sites are also a good source of images, not just for the images themselves but also because they're good about providing information about the image, too.


  • Documentaries and period films: Search the library catalog for these, restricting your search by Material Type to "DVDs, Videos" You can also  enter “documentary” to limit your results to non-fiction film.
  • Internet Movie Database This free database is good for identifying useful films (you can even search by plot - see Advanced search for even more search options) as well as getting additional information (director, producer, cast, release date, etc.) that may help you buy or borrow a copy.
  • Google Video  Searches other web video sources like YouTube and Vimeo, too.


Audio Recordings

Audio Recordings

  • Search the library catalog for audio recordings, restricting your search by Material Type to "Music recorded" or "Spoken record".
  • Naxos Music Library  Collection of online music available for streaming
  • Jamendo  Creative Commons music search: music free to download and use the Search box or Tags to identify songs from a particular genre of music
  • YouTube is another good source of music.  Search on artist or song name.


  • Music Lyrics  A list of lyrics web sites in the Yahoo Directory.  Tip: Many of these sites contain user-submitted lyrics and not everyone hear's the same words!  For maxium accuracy, check more than one sites to make sure the results corroborate each other.
  • Lyrics  The Google Directory's list of song lyrics web sites.