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Reference Sources: Atlases

A guide on the types of reference sources

Atlases and Gazetteers

Geographic information is located in gazetteers, atlases and maps. Geography resources have call numbers that begin with G.

  • Atlases contain collections of maps. They provide information on geographical/political changes. There are world, national, and thematic atlases and these may be current or historical.
    • World atlases include National Geographic Atlas of the World.
    • National atlases: National Atlas of the United States, Atlas of the American Revolution.
    • Thematic atlases focus on a specific subject area, such as astronomy or agriculture. Examples include, The Oxford Economic Atlas of the World.
  • Gazetteers are sometimes referred to as geographical dictionaries and provide descriptions of places, but no maps.
    • General gazetteers include Webster's New Geographical Dictionary, The Columbia Lippincott Gazetteer of the World, Gazetteer of Undersea Features, etc.
    • Regional gazetteers, such as The Complete Cities of Ancient Egypt, by S. R. Snape, focus on a specific geographical region and are good places to look if you want to know the location of a town, its population, or where its name came from.

Sometimes atlases and gazetteers are combined, as in the Atlas of California, by Michael W. Donley.