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Environmental Design Library @ UC Berkeley

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American Communities

American Communities is a bibliographic research guide to resources on American urban communities in the University of California, Berkeley, libraries and on the web. The emphasis is on the interaction of the built and social environments. Included are selected ethnic studies and urban community titles. This guide supports the UC Berkeley courses City Planning 118AC: The Urban Community and Landscape Architecture 141AC: The American Landscape. For additional assistance please consult the Environmental Design Library reference staff, 210 Wurster Hall. You may also want to consult the Ethnic Studies Library staff and to see the Library's African American Studies web page.

UC Berkeley faculty, registered students, and staff who are off campus may use items marked UCB Only or UC Only by using The Library's off-campus access services.

Content reviewed: February 2010. Compiled by Deborah Sommer.


To find encyclopedias on a topic, in Melvyl search by subject, adding the term encyclopedia to your subject word(s).


Research Guides

Here is a selection of guides to research materials in the UC Berkeley libraries and on the web.


Finding Books

Library Catalogs

In the Melvyl catalog combine subject headings and limit your results to Berkeley campus items, e.g., [subject] ethnic neighborhoods and [subject] african american; select [location] uc berkeley. Note that most headings can be modified by a place name, e.g., community development urban oakland. NOTE: ***The American dream*** is NOT a catalog subject term. Instead, search the phrase "American dream" as a keyword search. Or deconstruct the concept into its components, e.g., home ownership or educational attainment.

Alienation (Social psychology)
Assimilation (Sociology)
City and town life--[place name]
Community development, Urban
Community life--[place name]
Discrimination in housing
[Ethnic or racial group], e.g.:
European American#
Hispanic American#
Indians of North America
Italian American#
Japanese American#
Racially mixed people

[Ethnic/racial group]--Cultural assimilation
[Ethnic/racial group]--Economic conditions
[Ethnic/racial group]--Educational attainment
[Ethnic/racial group]--Segregation
[Ethnic/racial group]--Social conditions
[Ethnic group]--Ethnic identityEthnic neighborhoods--United States
Hispanic American neighborhoods
Home ownership
Human geography
[Religious or sexual orientation group]--Identity
Immigrants--United States
Metropolitan areas
Migration, Internal
Minorities--[place name]
Minorities--[place name]--Economic conditions
Minorities--Cross-cultural studies
Minorities--Housing--[place name]
Minorities--United States--History
Multiculturalism--[place name]
Popular culture
[Racial group]--Racial identity
Residential mobility
[Place name]--Social life & customs
Social values--United States
Suburban life--[place name]
Suburbs--[place name]
United States--Ethnic relations
United States--Race relations
Urbanization--United States
Working class whites--United States
Zoning, Exclusionary



To find a bibliography, or a list of books, on your topic in Melvyl, search by subject, adding the term bibliography to your subject word(s).


Finding Journal Articles

Use journal and newspaper indexes and databases to discover articles on your topic. Some online databases include the full text of the articles you discover or the icon which may lead you to the full text elsewhere. In many cases, however, you will need to locate the print journal in the Library's collections; search the Library's catalogs by the journal title in order to find the shelving location and call number for the journal.

To boost your article retrieval skills take a drop-in class at Moffitt Library. See also City Planning Indexes & Abstracts for a more complete list of journal article indexes. For UCB Only or UC Only indexes and databases, go to The Library's home pageFind InformationArticles.


Finding News Articles

Sometimes the only record of a hot community issue is in the local media. In addition to the indexes listed here, some newspapers are available full text on the web; information regarding archives of older issues is sometimes available at these sites. For a list of online full-text American and international newspapers, go to the The Library's home pageFind InformationArticlesNews Article Databases.


Finding Statistics & Data

Here's a small selection of statistical resources. For a more comprehensive list, including some full text, see Statistics & data for city planning: United States (American focus with a California emphasis).


Selected Readings

Here is a taste of the readings available about American communities. Use the subject headings in this guide to discover more.


Selected Libraries & Societies