1. What is Lantern?

Lantern is the search platform for the collections of the Media History Digital Library, an open access initiative led by Eric Hoyt and the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research. The Media History Digital Library (MHDL) digitizes collections of classic media periodicals that belong in the public domain for full public access.

In 2011, Eric Hoyt, Carl Hagenmaier, and Wendy Hagenmaier began developing fulltext search for the MHDL from a kitchen table in Los Altos, California (you can read their "Working Theory" essay about the early phases of development). When Eric accepted a position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he brought Lantern's development with him and found even more collaborators (see Credits). In 2013, the project took on visualization as an additional goal and reached its version 1.0 release.

2.How does the search process work?

Lantern searches an index of nearly 2 million pages. Each document maps to a specific page in our collection. (Big thanks and credit go to Andy Myers for innovating our page-level indexing process.) By searching every page as a unique document, our search engine can run quickly and efficiently.

Most of the underlying books and magazines, on the other hand, were scanned and cataloged as bound volumes. This is why Lantern displays a specific page but the metadata refers to the bound volume in which the page appears.

Visit the Media History Digital Library website to see the magazines curated into collections by subject matter and a blog discussing particular works in more depth.

3. What is the copyright status of these materials?

To determine which materials are available for digitization, we check the U.S. copyright status of all titles. We reviewed every copyright renewal for serials (magazines) published from 1923 to 1950, and for titles after those dates, we search the copyright records for the status of the major publications published from 1951 to 1963.

The copyrights for nearly all of these media industry, fan and technical publications were not renewed, and those pre-1964 works are now in the public domain.

David Pierce, the founder of the Media History Digital Library, is the author of a reference work on copyright and has performed thousands of copyright searches for hundreds of clients over the last thirty years.

4. May I reuse these materials?

Most definitely.

All materials in the Media History Digital Library are available for free viewing and free download. We ask that you not rehost the files, and talk to us if you want to use them in bulk for commercial purposes.

Citing the Media History Digital Library as a source is requested, but not a condition of use.

5. Give me more magazines!

We hope this is what you are thinking. We want more magazines online too.

As a non-profit initiative, your support is what enables us to keep building our collections. Please consider making a donation at https://supportuw.org/giveto/mediahistory

Have more questions? Visit the MHDL FAQ page.