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Journals study guide

Contents page from 'Aglaia', 1893, London, England, UK, 1893. Museum no. NAL PP 4 N

Contents page from 'Aglaia - The Journal of the Healthy & Artistic Dress Union', Issue number 1, July 1893, London, England, UK, 1893. Museum no. NAL PP 4 N

Finding information in journals

Journal articles are a major source of information in the fields of art, craft, design and architecture. They are particularly important for tracking down information on contemporary artists, designers, architects, craftspeople and movements on whom books have not yet been and may never be written. The best way to find journal articles is by using the many published abstracts and indexes in your subject area. These may either be in printed hard copy or, increasingly, in the form of electronic databases. A number of these are listed below and most are held in the National Art Library (NAL). The major published abstracting and indexing resources listed here are also likely to be held in many academic and public libraries with art and design collections. Although most of the journals they refer to will be held in the NAL, some may not be. If we do not hold the required journal title, you can search for an alternative location using the arlis.net periodicals database, which is described in more detail in the Finding journals held in other libraries section below.

Links are provided to resources freely available on the Internet. Due to licensing restrictions, electronic databases are only available to users in the National Art Library reading rooms.

How to find journal articles on your subject

To find magazine, journal or newspaper articles search the published abstracts and indexes in your subject area listed below. When you have found a reference to an article in a particular journal, search the Library Catalogue for the journal title to find out if the NAL holds the particular journal title and volume you require. Choose the Periodicals tab and then do a Periodical Title Keyword search.

List of abstracts and indexes


  • British humanities index (1962–current)
    Format: Electronic resource available by subscription (Available in NAL)
    An international abstracting and indexing tool for research in the humanities, BHI indexes over 320 internationally respected arts and humanities journals and weekly magazines published in the UK and other English speaking countries, as well as quality newspapers published in the UK. Regular monthly updates with links to the electronic full text of many journal articles. Previously called:Subject index to periodicals (see below).
  • Subject index to periodicals
    London: Library Association, 1916–1962. 44 vols.
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: PP.76.E (1916-20) and PP.500.Q (1947-61)
  • Poole's index to periodical literature (1802–1906)
    Boston, Mass., Osgood ; London: Turner, 1882–1908.
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: PP.76.E)
    There is no general art index to British 19th-century art periodicals; however, this general periodical index for the 19th century, covering nearly 500 American and English titles, includes some art journals. Arrangement is by subject only. No author entries, except for biographical and critical works, but authors' names are cited in brackets.


  • Architectural publications index (API)
    London: British Architectural Library, 1995–
    Format: CD-ROM and printed resource (Pressmark: 704.AD.0056)
    Produced by staff at the British Architectural Library, API is the leading index to newly published books and journal articles from over 300 journals. Previously called Architectural Periodicals Index, from 1973–1994 (available in NAL at pressmark PP.601.G). The freely availableRIBA British Architectural Library Catalogue Online includes all of the information from API plus is a catalogue of the books, photographs, drawings and manuscripts collections of the RIBA and also incorporates a biographical database of architects.
  • Avery index to architectural periodicals (1934–)
    New York: Getty Research Institute and the Trustees of Columbia University
    Format: Electronic resource available by subscription (Available in NAL).
    Offers a comprehensive listing of journal articles published worldwide on architecture and design, landscape architecture, city planning, historic preservation, and interior design and decoration. It includes not only the scholarly and popular periodical literature, but also the publications of professional associations, US state and regional periodicals, and the major serial publications on architecture and design from Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Australia.
  • Avery obituary index of architects
    Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall, 1980
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: Ref 720.92 AVE)
    Obituaries primarily of architects, but eminent art historians, archaeologists and city planners also included.


  • Art full text/Art index retrospective (1929–current)
    New York: H.W. Wilson, 1930–
    Format: Electronic resource available by subscription (Available in NAL)
    Also known as Art index comprises Art Full Text which includes abstracts of articles from art periodicals published throughout the world with full-text coverage for selected periodicals. Abstracting coverage begins with January 1994, full-text coverage for selected journals begins in 1997. Also comprises Art index retrospective which cumulates citations to Art Index volumes 1–32 of the printed index published between 1929–1984.
  • ARTbibliographies Modern (1974–current)
    Bethseda, Md.: Cambridge Scientific Abstracts, 1974–
    Format: Electronic resource available by subscription (Available in NAL)
    Provides full abstracts of journal articles, books, essays, exhibition catalogues, PhD dissertations, and exhibition reviews on all forms of modern and contemporary art from the late 19th century onwards, and including photography since its invention. It includes abstracts of English and foreign-language material on famous and lesser-known artists, movements, and trends. Coverage includes performance art and installation works, video art, computer and electronic art, body art, graffiti, artists' books, theatre arts, conservation, crafts, ceramic and glass art, ethnic arts, graphic and museum design, fashion, and calligraphy, as well as traditional media including illustration, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and drawing.
  • BHA: Bibliographie d'histoire de l'art/Bibliography of the history of art (1990–current)
    Santa Monica, CA: J. Paul Getty Trust, 1990–
    Format: Electronic resource available by subscription (Available in NAL)
    Covers visual arts in all media including traditional fine arts (painting, sculpture, drawing, prints, architecture), decorative and applied arts, material culture, photography and contemporary new media, visual arts aspects of performing arts. Includes European art from late Antiquity to the present; American art from the European arrival to the present; Christian and/or European colonial art in Asia Minor, Africa, India, the Far East, and Australia. Exceptional coverage of numerous document types including books, periodical articles, and catalogues. Its two predecessor art indexes, Répertoire d'art et d'archéologie (RAA) from 1973 to 1989 and Répertoire international de la littérature de l'art/International repertory of the literature of art (RILA)  from 1975 to 1989 can also be searched simultaneously. Both of these predecessor indexes are also available in print; RAA has a longer coverage in print from 1910-1989.
  • Catalog of the Library of the Museum of Modern Art, New York City
    Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall, 1976. 14 vols.
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: 185.975)
    Includes articles in many periodicals which are not indexed in Art index or other indexes for 20th-century art, and also books and exhibition catalogues.
  • Courtauld Institute of Art periodicals (1930–1983)
    Bath: Mindata, 1989
    Format: Microfiche resource (Pressmark: 702.AD.0001)
    Subject index to periodical articles on the fine and decorative arts, architecture, and other related subjects in almost 200 journals. Some publications, e.g. Burlington Magazine, were indexed retrospectively so include their first issues. Subject classified arrangement followed by author index.
  • Index to 19th-century American art periodicals (1840–1907)
    Madison, Conn.: Sound View Press, 1999
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: Ref 705.16 SCH)
    Index to 42 American art periodicals from 1840–1907. All articles, poems, illustrations, and advertisements are indexed. Also available online as: AAI: Index to 19th-century American art periodicals. The NAL does NOT subscribe to the electronic version. There is no index to British 19th century art periodicals, however some 19th century British art journals are indexed in Poole's index to periodical literature described in the section above.
  • Library catalog of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
    Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall, 1960, 1962, 1965. 25 vols. + 2 supplements
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: 185.930-956)
    Includes periodical articles, monographs, sales and exhibition catalogues. Dictionary catalogue in one alphabetical sequence.


  • AATA online
    Format: Electronic resource freely available online
    Abstracts of International Conservation Literature is a free online resource for professionals engaged in the conservation of material cultural heritage research and practice. The database includes over 100,000 abstracts, with quarterly additions of both current and historical conservation literature. All 36 volumes of Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts (AATA) (printed edition held in the NAL covering the years 1966–1992) and its predecessor, IIC Abstracts (printed edition held in NAL) issued from 1955 to 2002. Requires online user registration. Sponsored by the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI).
  • Abstracts of technical studies in art and archaeology, 1943–1952. Rutherford John Gettens (compiler). Washington, D.C. : Freer Gallery of Art/Smithsonian Institution, 1955.
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: 185.41)
    Contents: Predecessor to IIC abstracts.

Design, decorative arts and crafts

  • Catalogue d'articles de périodiques, arts décoratifs et beaux-arts. Bibliothèque Forney, Paris. Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall, 1972. 4 vols.
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: Seminar Room 700.16 BIB)
    Photographic copy of a card index covering the decorative arts, especially interior decoration (furniture, woodworking, wallpaper, curtains, wrought iron, floor coverings, etc.)  Catalogues periodical holdings of the Bibliothèque Forney selectively from 1919, systematically from 1950. Arrangement is alphabetical sequence of French subject headings.
  • Design and applied arts index (1973–current)
    Format: Electronic resource available by subscription (Available in NAL)
    Contains over 130,000 annotated references from more than 500 design and craft journals and newspapers published from 1973 onwards, and data on over 50,000 designers, craftspeople, studios, workshops, firms etc.  Research articles are covered, along with topical news items, conference and seminar reports, and book, video and exhibition reviews.
  • Designers international index
    London: Bowker Saur, 1991. 3 vols.
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: Ref 745.4016 DES)
    Cites periodical articles and also monographs, with extensive
    coverage of early 20th century material. Arrangement is alphabetical:  Vol. 1 contains list of journals indexed, followed by the alphabetical sequence A - K; vol. 2 contains L- Z; vol. 3 has indexes to design categories and countries.
  • Index to crafts journals (1984–1988)
    Sydney Crafts Council of Australia, 1990. 3 vols.
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: Ref 745.016 IND)
    International guide to over 70 craft periodicals published in Europe, North America and Australia. Arrangement is alphabetical sequence in each of: authors (vol. 1); personal and corporate subjects (vol. 2); subject headings (vol. 3).  List of journals indexed at beginning of each volume.

Fashion and textiles

  • C.I.E.T.A. bibliography (1956–current)
    Lyon: Centre International d'Étude des Textiles Anciens, 1956–
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: PP.42.H)
    Published as a regular feature in the Centre's Bulletin de Liaison.
    Covers embroidery, textile industry, costume and fashion, lace, printed textiles, knitting, carpets, tapestries, museums and collections, woven textiles. Geographical coverage includes Africa, America, the Middle and Far East. Arrangement: Broad subject groupings as above.
  • Fashion index
    Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Newcastle Polytechnic, 198– . 3 vols. bound in one.
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: Ref 391.0016 FAS)
    Covers 20th-century fashion and clothing technology in fashion magazines and, to a lesser extent, in books. Journals indexed run from 1976 to 1980 but vol. 1 also includes Vogue 1945-1976 and Costume 1967-1975; vol. 2 indexes Picture Post 1938-1945. Has now ceased publication. Arrangement: One single alphabetical sequence of subjects in each volume.  List of periodicals indexed at front of vols. 1 and 3, at end of vol. 2.  Vol. 3 also gives a list of subject index headings.
  • Textiles from British magazines, 1950–1969: an index of articles
    Manchester: Manchester Polytechnic Library, 1987.
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: 26.Z.258)
    Indexes textiles in a wide range of British periodicals published 1950–1969. Arrangement: Subject arrangement, with articles cited chronologically within each subject. Name index for designers and firms. List of periodicals indexed.

Historical bibliography

  • Annual bibliography of the history of the printed book and libraries
    Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1970–1984/Kluwer, 1970-
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: 325.B)
    International record of all books and articles of scholarly value relating to the history of the printed book, to the history of the arts, crafts, techniques and equipment, and of the economic, social and cultural environment, involved in its production, distribution, conservation and description. Although it excludes books and articles on modern technical processes, a subject such as engraving will be admitted in its book illustration context. Arrangement: By subject groups with an internal arrangement alphabetically by country; within each country arrangement is by century then by standard sub-divisions.  There is a cumulative index to vols.1–17 in vol 17A (1989).
  • Index to selected bibliographical journals, 1933–1970 and 1971–1985
    London: Bibliographical Society, 1982 and Oxford Bibliographical Society/Cambridge University Press, 1991.
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: 74.P.33 (1933–1970) and NC.91.1142 1971–1985))
    Records articles in English-language journals primarily concerned with historical bibliography. Arrangement: One alphabetical sequence.  Within each heading, the sequence is alphabetical by periodical, and then chronological.
  • Iter: gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance
    Format: Electronic resource available by subscription (Available in NAL)
    Includes literature pertaining to the Middle Ages and Renaissance (400–1700). Citations for books, journal material (articles, reviews, review articles, bibliographies, catalogues, abstracts and discographies) are included, as are citations for essays in books (including entries in conference proceedings, Festschriften, encyclopedias and exhibition catalogues).
  • Royal Historial Society Bibliography
    Format: Electronic resource available by subscription (Available in NAL)
    The Royal Historical Society's online bibliography provides bibliographic data on historical writing dealing with the British Isles, and with the British Empire and commonwealth, during all periods for which written documentation is available - from 55 BC to the present. The bibliography aims to be as comprehensive as is practical for publications since 1900 and includes books and articles in books and journals. Data from the freely available London's Past Online project were added to the database in January 2003; data from Irish History Online were added in August 2004 and May 2005.
  • Victorian Database Online
    Format: Electronic resource available by subscription (Available in NAL)
    Contains over 100,000 records listing books, articles, and dissertation abstracts published from 1945 to 2002 on every field of 19th-century British studies.

Islamic and asian studies

  • Bibliography of Asian studies
    Ann Arbor, Mich.: Association for Asian Studies, 1956–1991.
    NAL holds 1969-1978, then 1982–86
    Format: Printed resource: (Pressmark: 1984–1986 are held at Ref 950.016 BIB, previous issues are at pressmark PP.43.P)
    Covers books and periodicals on all Asian topics.  Arrangement: Primarily by geographical area, and secondly by subject classification (outline is given at the start of the volume). Each title cited is generally recorded only once. List of abbreviations and of journal titles indexed near start of volume.
  • Dictionary catalog of the Library of the Freer Gallery of Art
    Boston, Mass.: G.K.Hall, 1967.  6 vols.
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: 185.923-927)
    Covers books, pamphlets and periodicals on the art of the Far East, India and the Near East. Arrangement: Dictionary catalogue with authors, subjects, titles in two alphabetical sequences: Western languages and Oriental languages.
  • Index islamicus, 1906–1955
    Cambridge: Heffer, 1980 plus 5-year supplements to 1980 published by Mansell.
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: Ref 297.016 IND)
    Catalogue of articles on Islamic subjects in periodicals and other collective publications. Arrangement: List of sources and abbreviations at front. Classified arrangement, spelt out at the start of each volume, includes a large section on art, subdivided into a number of categories. Extended up-to-date coverage available on CD-ROM at the British Library.
  • Revue bibliographique de sinologie
    Paris: Editions de l'Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, 1955–
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: PP.69.G)
    NAL holds: 1989, 1998–2000, 2002
    Lists and abstracts books and journal articles on Chinese studies in Chinese, Japanese and European languages.


  • Information Research Watch International (IRWI)
    West Sussex: Bowker Saur, 2000–
    Format: Electronic resource available by subscription (Not available in NAL, although a remote search service is available via the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) website to members)
    Reports new, ongoing and completed research in library and information science worldwide, from 1980–. Previously called Current research in library and information science (1983–1999). Available at the British Library.
  • Library and information science abstracts (LISA)
    London: Library Association, 1969–
    Format: Electronic resource available by subscription (Not available in NAL, but available via CILIP website to members)
    Corresponds to the Library Association's printed index of the same name. The database covers library and information science, publishing and bookselling. Also includes the records published in the printed Current research in library and information science, providing international coverage of in-progress or recently completed research projects. The international source documents include journals, bulletins, materials from library associations, conference proceedings, books, theses, technical reports and research projects.  Available at the British Library.
  • Library literature and information science full-text
    Format: Electronic resource available by subscription (Not available in the NAL; available at the British Library and CILIP)
    Indexes articles and book reviews from key library science journals from 1984. Includes full-text articles from selected journals from 1994. Available at the British Library.


Museology is also covered in the British humanities index described in the General section above.

  • Museum abstracts
    Edinburgh: Scottish Museums Council, 1985–
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: PP.44.B)
    NAL holds: 1988–1996
    Covers museums, tourism, heritage and leisure. Indexes journal articles, press cuttings and information sheets received by the Scottish Museums Council's Information Centre. Arrangement is by the following subject sections: arts; collecting and collection management; conservation; education; exhibit design and display; heritage management, conservation and interpretation; museum developments; museum management; policy and legislation; professional activities. Some cross-references are given. There is a list of the journals indexed at the back of each issue.
  • Museum abstracts international
    Edinburgh: Scottish Museums Council (pub.Routledge), 1990–
    Format: Printed resource (Pressmark: PP.105.G)
    NAL holds: 1991–1992 (incomplete) Expanded edition of Museum abstracts covering museums and heritage throughout the world. Indexes journals, news items, information sheets and publications received by the Scottish Museums Council's Information Centre. Arrangement: Abstracts are grouped under ten headings and provided with keywords in French and English. These headings are: administration and finance; collecting and collections management; conservation and restoration; educational activities; exhibition design and display; legislation and policy, marketing and visitor services; planning and development; theory and methodology; training and professional development.  A final short section lists new monographs.

Finding journals in other libraries

If the NAL does not hold the journal you are looking for, the following sources may provide an alternative location.

  • arlis.net
    The arlis.net periodicals database provides details of around 18,000 journals on art, architecture and design. The database is compiled from information supplied by more than 90 academic, public, national and special libraries throughout the UK and Ireland. For each journal, the database gives a summary of the issues held by each library.
    Copac® provides free access to the merged online catalogues of 24 major university research libraries in the UK and Ireland plus the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, and the National Library of Wales/Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru.
    SUNCAT is the pilot Serials UNion CATalogue for the UK. The pilot service includes records for journals on all subjects from 22 of the largest UK research libraries and the databases of the CONSER programme and the ISSN International network. Journal holdings for more libraries will be added continuously over the next two years. A full service will be launched in Autumn 2006. SUNCAT will also provide links to the web pages of contributing libraries so that users of this service can find the library addresses, telephone numbers, opening hours and lending services.

A gift in your will

You may not have thought of including a gift to a museum in your will, but the V&A is a charity and legacies form an important source of funding for our work. It is not just the great collectors and the wealthy who leave legacies to the V&A. Legacies of all sizes, large and small, make a real difference to what we can do and your support can help ensure that future generations enjoy the V&A as much as you have.