Lantern searches an index of nearly 2 million pages. Each document maps to a specific page in our collection. By searching every page as a unique document, our search engine can run quickly and efficiently.

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.


Lantern is the search platform for the collections of the Media History Digital Library, an open access initiative led by David Pierce and Eric Hoyt. The Media History Digital Library (MHDL) digitizes collections of classic media periodicals that belong in the public domain for full public access. The project is supported by owners of materials who loan them for scanning, and donors who contribute funds to cover the cost of scanning.

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.