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Researching California: Home

Explore California history using a variety of sources


Meet Your Librarian

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Iris Carroll

Need help now? In addition to our Research Help Drop-In Hours Monday - Saturday, we have online help available. Simply go to the Ask a Librarian page to get immediate help.

My Research Help Schedule
(In Person, East Campus L & LC. and Online Chat)

Mondays: 9-10 am, 11-2pm, 3-4pm
Tuesdays: 9-10 am, 2-4 pm
Wednesdays: 9am-12 pm (on West Campus), 1- 3 pm
Thursdays: 11 am-1pm

Zoom Appointments
Times vary. To see when I'm available and to schedule an appointment with me, simply click on the orange "Schedule Appointment" button above, then pick your date/time. If you do not see a day/time that works, please email me and we can arrange another time.

If I am your class librarian, contact me through the Canvas inbox for a response within 24 hours. If I am not your class librarian, email me at
Social: YouTube Page

Start with Background Reading

picture of california capitol

Use the Gale eBooks database (link is below) to find short overview articles on topics related to your research. This is not an exhaustive list of key terms.

Some recommended search terms:

  • california--history
  • groundwater--california
  • california race relations
  • california--gold discoveries
  • labor laws and legislation--california

Find Primary Sources @the Library

Because primary sources are the documents or artifacts closest to the topic of investigation, they're a great way to gain insight into and an understanding of your event or topic. Often they are created during the time period that is being studied but they can also be produced later by eyewitnesses or participants.

You may find primary sources in their original format (usually in an archive) or reproduced in a variety of ways. For example, in books, in digital format on the Web, on microfilm, digital, etc.

Examples of Primary Sources are:

  • Original Research (reported in journals & dissertations)
  • Diaries
  • Interviews (legal proceedings, personal, telephone, email)
  • Letters
  • Original Documents (i.e. birth certificate or a trial transcript)
  • Patents
  • Photographs
  • Proceedings of Meetings, Conferences and Symposia
  • Survey Research (such as market surveys and public opinion polls)
  • Works of Literature
Useful Key Words for Finding Primary Sources:

To find primary sources, simply add these words to the end of your search for resources on any topic:

  • sources
  • correspondence
  • personal narratives
  • photographs
  • diaries

For more information on finding primary sources, see our research guide, Find Primary Sources.

Recommended Databases for Finding Primary Sources:

The MJC Library has several databases that are great to use when you need to find primary sources.

Find Secondary Sources @the Library

secondary sources infographic

Secondary (Think of this as Second-Hand):

Secondary information is made up of accounts written after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. Therefore, secondary information interprets and evaluates primary information.

Why Use Secondary Sources:

Because secondary sources are written with the benefit of hindsight and interpretation, they are useful at helping you understand your topic and seeing what scholars and other experts have to say about it.

Examples are:
  • Analysis & Interpretations of Original Research (reported in magazines)
  • Biographies
  • Books
  • Commentaries
  • Dissertations
  • Indexes, Abstracts, Bibliographies (used to locate primary & secondary sources)
  • Journal Articles

Finding Secondary Sources

Use the MJC Library Cataloglibrary databases, and the Web to find secondary sources.

Explore Local History

To get started on local history projects check out our Local History & Information research guide by clicking on the picture below or right here.

Local History research guide


Recommended Library eBooks

Citation Styles

Your instructor should tell you which citation style they want you to use. Click on the appropriate link below to learn how to format your paper and cite your sources according to a particular style.