So much of an illustrator’s quest for reference is now online, thanks to google images, etc. I’m not disparaging it, as it’s my go-to source for a quick image. However, there’s something to be said for going into a place full of history and finding images for yourself. The tactile sensation of flipping through a dusty, century-old publication is really something else.
Recently I’ve been exploring this kind of experience; the San Francisco Public Library’s History Center is chock full of periodicals and images. They’re even working on organizing their collection of old posters.
Another great place to go for old magazines is The Magazine a fascinating store in SF. They have an extensive collection of both new and old magazines and some books. I loved flipping through some issues of Popular Mechanics from the 1930s, and found some hilarious advertising. Fair warning: the back half of the store sells erotica and gay porn magazines.