So this question is heavily related to the questions here and here. Specifically I would like to know if any academics out there (especially in the fields of Maths, Physics, and Engineering) know of good resources for old papers/journal articles. Most of the papers of interest to me are in German and are between the years 1900 and 1930. A lot of these journals do not exist anymore or were renamed. So, it's almost impossible to track down who holds copies of them. Is there a resource/library that specialises in these old articles/texts? Or am I better off just using the suggestions posted in the two linked questions?

Note: I am not specifically interested in finding, say, digital versions of the old papers. I am more interested in knowing if there is a way to find these old papers myself before asking a librarian or asking for an interlibrary loan.

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    Is there a way to have electricity at home before contacting an utility company? sure there is.
    – EarlGrey
    Jun 3, 2021 at 15:51
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    "A lot of these journals do not exist anymore or were renamed. So, it's almost impossible to track down who holds copies of them." Do you have any examples of this in the case of renaming? In my experience, library catalogues tend to be good at listing the original journal names.
    – Anyon
    Jun 3, 2021 at 16:08
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    At my lab we have a Web of Science subscription that then can automatically link to article sources. If available on-line we can get it directly, if we don't subscribe to a particular journal we submit a request to our library for them to go get an electronic copy through their various means.
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 3, 2021 at 16:21
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    Not sure in which country the OP operates. In Germany, many university libraries feed their data into the same online catalog. For instance, you can find which university libraries have which issues of the journal "Science" (starting 1883) here: kxp.k10plus.de/DB=2.1/SET=8/TTL=12723/PRS=HOL/LNG=EN/… - If you know the name of the journal and the issue, you have a good chance of finding on that web service which university libraries have the journal issues of interest.
    – DCTLib
    Jun 3, 2021 at 16:43
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    @Anyon Thank you so much, will definitely take a look at this. I need to go back to older works because the referencing in current papers is so bad. For Boussinesq's hypothesis you will often see the reference as "J. Boussinesq. Essai sur la théorie des eaux courantes. Mémoires présentés par divers Savants à l’Académie des Sciences de l’Institut National de France. Tome XXIII, N°l, (1877), 1- 680." And because it's so many pages and in French, no one has taken the time to actually get the reference correct. So they just reference all 680 pages. Meanwhile, the pages of interest are only 24-46.
    – Kendall
    Jun 3, 2021 at 19:03

3 Answers 3


Actually, research librarians are trained specifically to do this kind of thing. They also have a network they use to find things.

You are making a mistake by avoiding their help. It is what they are there to do. Contact a research librarian, preferably at a research university (R1 or R2 in the US) and state your need.

But even my community library has someone who has been able to contact other librarians with more specific knowledge.

Note that quite a lot of old works have been moved out of working libraries into archival storage - warehouses. Some of that has been digitized along the way. Some professional societies do digitizing of old works.

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    While I agree this is true, sometimes it is easier and/or faster to access the content yourself, if you know where to look. For example, Ludwig Prandtl's work was collected and published in three volumes by Springer. But unless you know specifically to look for "Ludwig Prandtl Gesammelte Abhandlungen zur angewandten Mechanik, Hydro- und Aerodynamik" you will probably resort to hunting down each individual article. Sometimes academics have found useful resources over the years, just curious if anyone has some suggestions.
    – Kendall
    Jun 3, 2021 at 15:59
  • I am accepting this as the best answer, purely because I do agree that research librarians are trained to find and get access to these texts. The most useful answers where provided by DCTLib, DanielHatton and AndreasBlass. I thank everyone for their time and effort in replying to my query... with the exception of @EarlGrey :)
    – Kendall
    Jun 4, 2021 at 7:13

A lot of bound volumes of journals from that period have been digitized and uploaded to either Google Books or archive.org


Are you aware of the "Jahrbuch über Fortschritte der Mathematik"? In the period 1868–1942, it performed essentially the same function as Mathematical Reviews after 1940 --- summaries and reviews of publications. It won't get you the papers you want, but it can tell you that they exist and where they were published.

Also, take a look at https://www.emis.de/projects/JFM/ .

I don't know whether there are similar sources for fields other than mathematics.

  • I was not aware of this. Many thanks for sharing. These along with kxp.k10plus.de link provided by @DCTLib have been the most useful answers on his thread.
    – Kendall
    Jun 4, 2021 at 7:09

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