Skip to main content

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.
    • 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.
    • General gazetteers include Webster's New Geographical Dictionary, The Columbia Lippincott Gazetteer of the World, Gazetteer of Undersea Features, etc.

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