GEOG 50AC: California

Starting Your Research

Finding Resources in The Bancroft Library

The Bancroft Library is the largest special collection of the UC Berkeley campus. Please note our hours are M-F 10 am – 4:45 pm. Most of our collections, in particular our manuscript and pictorial collections are offsite. You will need to plan in advance to have material available for you when you arrive. Manuscript and pictorial collections that are not processed will not be served in the reading room. Other collections, or portions of collections, may be unavailable. Plan your research by consulting the catalog and using alternative resources, including online resources. If you need assistance please call The Bancroft Library Reference Desk during business hours: (510) 642-6481. Offsite material can be requested using our online form:

Electronic access -- All formats can be searched on Oskicat: (the University of California Berkeley Library’s online catalog). The catalog description will include information about the creator, extent of collection, subjects, any restrictions as to use, collection specific notes, and also will indicate location of material (onsite, NRLF). More extensive groupings of materials, including manuscripts and pictorial material may have detailed finding aids that will provide more detailed information about the contents of the collection.

Finding aids -- Because manuscript and archival collections contain unique materials, a finding aid, e.g., inventory, box list, or other summary of the intellectual organization of the collection is often available to help a researcher determine the contents of the materials. Finding aids provide an overview of how the collection is organized. It often includes a biographical or historical note about the creator, a scope and content note about what is in the collection, and a container listing. Most of these are available in-house, but increasingly many are available on the Internet.

Online Archive of California (OAC)

The Online Archive of California (OAC) is a digital information resource that facilitates and provides access to materials such as manuscripts, photographs, and works of art held in libraries, museums, archives, and other institutions across California. The OAC includes a single, searchable database of "finding aids" to primary sources and to their digital facsimiles which are selectively available. Describing primary sources in detail, finding aids are the guides and inventories to collections in archives, museums, libraries and historical societies. Access to the finding aid is essential for understanding the content of a collection and for determining whether it is likely to satisfy your research needs. OAC home page:


Calisphere is the University of California's free gateway to primary sources. More than 150,000 digitized items, including photographs, documents, newspaper pages, political cartoons, works of art, diaries, transcribed oral histories, advertising, and other cultural artifacts, reveal the diverse history and culture of California and its role in national and world history. Calisphere's content has been selected from the libraries and museums of the UC campuses, and from a variety of cultural heritage organizations. Calisphere includes digital images of material available via the Online Archive of California (OAC) and provides easy access to material via its straightforward keyword searching option. URL:

 Websites of Interest:

Chinese is California: 1850-1925:

California Cultures:

Echoes of Freedom: South Asian Pioneers is California, 1889-1965Z:

Regional Oral History office:

Last Update: June 13, 2014 14:32