English 110 – Lukomski – Places in California
About this Guide
This guide provides students with recommended resources for researching places in California. Use the tabs to navigate through the pages of the guide.
Essay Assignment: Geography of Desire – Research paper exploring a place in California, using as least two good sources.
Paper Writing Assistance
Need More Help?
If you need more help with research, ask a librarian! Stop by the Reference Desk, or contact a librarian by phone, email, or chat for more help. Find our contact information on the right side of this page.
Interested in learning more about the library on your own? Explore the library’s online tutorials.
Sometimes the words you use to describe a topic are too specific, or just different from the words used by the library catalog and databases. Before you search, try coming up with other ways to describe your topic. For example:
- If you want to research Mission Santa Barbara, you might also search for California Spanish Missions in general.
- If you want to explore how tourism shapes the sense of place in a town like Carpinteria, you might search for beaches and tourism.
If you have trouble finding information on your topic, ask a librarian for help choosing the best keywords to use in your search, or try some of the search words listed below.
Reference sources are a good place to begin preliminary research on your topic. They can provide general background information, as well as give you ideas for additional keywords.
Print Reference Books
- California’s Geographic Names — R 917.94 D961c
- California Gold Camps — R 917.94003 G922ca
- A Companion to California — R 979.4 H325c 1987
Online Reference Sources
These resources are available online and will require your Pipeline account information when you access them off campus.
Search the library catalog (books+) for books on your topic. Your search results will include articles as well. Limit to books by choosing the appropriate box from the menu to the left of the results.
Search for articles in the following databases. These resources will require your Pipeline account information when you access them off campus.
- Academic Search Premier
This multi-disciplinary database provides full text for more than 4,600 periodicals (magazines, scholarly journals, and newspapers).
- Project MUSE
Provides complete, full-text versions of scholarly journals in a wide range of subject areas.
Contains articles from hundreds of scholarly journals covering a wide range of subjects in the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Full text articles are available, from the first issue (sometimes going back over 100 years) until five years ago.
- America: History and Life with Full Text
Covers the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. Provides full-text coverage of more than 200 periodicals (magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals) and nearly 100 books.
- History Reference Center
Covers all time periods of U.S. and World History, providing full text from reference and non-fiction books, periodicals (magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals), and primary source material such as historical documents, photos, and maps.
Several databases with searchable full-text versions of many newspapers.
Figuring out whether the information you find online is credible enough for college research can be challenging. Use the P.R.O.V.E.N. Source Evaluation Questions to help you determine whether the sources you find are credible:
- Purpose: How and why the source was created. Is it intended to educate, inform, persuade, sell, or entertain? Do the authors, publishers, or sponsors state this purpose, or try to disguise it? Why was this information published in this particular type of source (book, article, website, blog, etc.)? Is the source designed for the general public, students, or experts?
- Relevance: The value of the source for your needs. Does the type of source meet your assignment’s requirements? Does the information answer your question, support your argument, or add something to your knowledge of the topic? Is it too general or too specific? Is it too basic or too advanced?
- Objectivity: The reasonableness and completeness of the information. Do the authors present the information thoroughly and professionally? Is it fact or opinion? Is it biased? Do the authors use strong, emotional, manipulative, or offensive language? Do they leave out, or make fun of, important facts or alternative perspectives?
- Verifiability: The accuracy and truthfulness of the information. Do the authors support the information they present with strong factual evidence? Do they cite or provide links to other sources? What do experts say about the topic? Can you verify the information in other credible sources? Does the source contradict itself, include false statements, or misrepresent other sources?
- Expertise: The authority of the creators of the source. What makes the authors, publishers, or sponsors of the source authorities on the topic? Do they have related education, experience, or other expertise? Do they provide an important alternative perspective? Has the source been reviewed in some way, such as by an editor or through peer review?
- Newness: The age of the information. Is your topic in an area that requires current information (such as science, technology, or current events), or could information found in older sources still be useful? When was the information presented in the source first published or posted? Are newer sources available that would add important information to your understanding of the topic?
For more help locating reliable information online, see the Finding Credible Web Sources research guide.
Searching for Websites
You will find a lot of information about specific places in California on the internet, if you know where to look. Try searching for these types of websites:
- City or town government websites, like City of Santa Barbara
- Chamber of commerce website, like Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce
- County websites, like Tuolumne County
- Travel association, tourist, or visitor information websites, like San Francisco Travel
The official website of the State of California.
Type the place name and the word “area” (such as: Yosemite National Park area) to get the area in square miles.
- Google Maps
Use the terrain map to see the topography, as well as city borders.
- United States Geological Survey
Geological information, including earthquake information.
- NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association)
Weather and marine information.
- American Community Survey
Links to a variety of kinds of information about communities in the United States.
- Statistical Abstract of the United States
The authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States.
The University of California’s free public gateway to a world of primary sources, including more than 150,000 digitized items on history and culture of California and its role in national and world history.
- The Online Archive of California (OAC)
Part of the California Digital Library project, providing online access to a wide range of primary source materials held in libraries, museums, and archives all over California.
- American Memory
Primary sources, from the Library of Congress.
Geographical / Geological Information (topography, area, etc.)
Demographic Information (population, employment, etc.)
The following resources are available on the United States Census Bureau website: