Answered By Library Staff
Last Updated: Sep 15, 2023     Views: 31

⚠️ If in a hurry, this link to one of our Gale databases has results that may work for you.  ⚠️


If your assignment requires you find a letter to the editor in a specific publication, there's a number of routes you could take, but first:

  • It's good to know if your instructor will accept an op-ed (opinion editorial) as a letter to the editor or not. While sometimes used interchangeably, there is some nuance between them. If it does not matter to your instructor, then substituting the word "opinion" or "op-ed" for "letters to the editor" in the situations below could benefit you. See this FAQ for more context.
  • To know if we have a specific periodical publication in the first place, this FAQ may be helpful.
  • Already have the title to the article (letter to the editor) what you want to know if TCC has access to? This FAQ may be helpful.
  • Having issues accessing something that our databases are saying you should be able to access? Fill out a Document Delivery form and we'll email you. This FAQ shows you how.

Finding Letters to the Editor: It might sound odd, but the easiest method might be to Google what you're looking for! Many search engines have advanced searching features. You can use Google in conjunction with library tools to get access to what you discover if you run into a paywall. 

If you run into a paywall or subscription wall in your Google searching, try copying and pasting the title into a Discovery catalog search to see if we have the article in one of our databases. You might get around access issues that way. Once you have a title, the Discovery catalog can be quite helpful. Maybe use quotation marks around the title to search for it as a phrase if you aren't finding it quickly. Contact us if you are having trouble finding it in the catalog. The Discovery catalog searches through a lot of our databases all at once, but can't limit to a specific periodical AND topic easily. But you might also try a search string like "new york times" (or whatever periodical) AND "letters to the editor" (or your topic) in our catalog, limiting to articles.

You can learn more about searching the Discovery catalog here.

found same article in discovery

For example, you can limit in Google's Advanced search (you can find it in the future by googling "Google Advanced Search") to a periodical domain and then searching for your topic. To find the domain of a periodical website, Google the periodical that was suggested to you, and (if they have a website) grab the url from the address bar in your browser, and plug it into the advance search. Here's an example results list after using Google Advanced Searching, and another including a topic example. Below is a screenshot for National Geographic's (but if you're needing the New York Times's website, it is: ):   

Google example

You can limit in Google to specific dates by clicking the option under the search bar (after doing an initial search) for "Any date" > Custom Range and limiting to your timeframe needed.

Google's search engine allows for phrase searching, so you might not even need an advanced search! This would be the easiest route. For example, in your regular search string, you might try "Letters to the editor" in quotation marks alongside the name of the periodical you want an article from, like this: 

google search example

You will need to verify results by the url above the hyperlinked title, to see where the result is actually coming from, but it can be a quick way to get what you need. 


While we do hold specific periodical titles and more in some of our library databases, it can be complicated to search for a topic (letters to the editor, in this case) AND narrow down the specific periodical you want the article to come from, but it is possible. The periodical may show up in more than one database, and the coverage dates might differ depending on the database. Sometimes the database holds archival dates or only carries more current articles for the periodical. What's more, if you're needing recently-published articles, they might not even be indexed yet and therefore won't show up in our databases! You can find which databases give access to a magazine/journal/newspaper by searching for the periodical title in the Discovery catalog OR by going to our title finder here (search under "Journal" for all serial types - some places use "journal" when they really should use "serial" or "periodical"). 

That last link is listed on the very top of this database A-Z list, if you ever need to get back to it. Once you find the database a periodical is is held in, you can sometimes search within those holdings for your topic. 

Here is a GIF showing how to use the Journal Title Finder and search within a specific title once you select a database the title is held in: 

search within demo


If you were to search the Discovery catalog (main search bar off the library homepage), you would be given the same access and information: 


discovery example

A note about the NYTs: Not only does the TCC Library subscribe to the full digital version of The New York Times, which means students and employees have access to its complete current and archived content both online via the website or via the NYT app, but we also have NYTs past coverage through our databases. Looking for a specific article you already have the title to? Try searching using the article title in our Discovery Catalog. Here's an example search of how NYTs content will come up in the catalog. NYTs articles may come up in any search you do in the catalog, regardless of if you know the title. Keep in mind, indexing for databases is not always up-to-date if something was newly published. It may take a while if it is a newer article. You can see what database hold what years of coverage for the NYTs at this Discovery Catalog result for The New York Times under "Access Online" (at the bottom). The TCC Library no longer subscribes to the print version.