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University at Buffalo Libraries

Architecture & Planning Library

Architecture & Planning

Hometown History & Analysis

Part 1: background information on your hometown:


Everything & Catalog
-search by ‘all fields’ – “your town/city” and “State” and history, be sure to note the location of the book (APL, LML)
-in ‘Everything’ tab: to expand search to items not owned by the UB Libraries, check the box on the top right labeled: Add results beyond your library’s collection

Google Books
Over 15,000,000 books and magazine issues may be searched in Google Books. Check the book against the UB Libraries catalog to see if we own it or Delivery+ can be used.

The HathiTrust digital library is a preservation repository and highly functional access platform. It provides long-term preservation and access services for public domain and in copyright content from a variety of sources, including Google, the Internet Archive, Microsoft, and in-house partner institution initiatives.

Internet Archive
The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.

A mega-library catalog containing more than 100 million records contributed by 20,000 libraries, available through Delivery+.


Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals
provides a comprehensive index to national and international architectural journals, both professional and popular.
— for possible information and/or images on historical building in your town/city by the name of building or by name of your town/city and state

Digital Sanborn Maps: New York
Sanborn fire insurance maps of New York’s towns and cities (1867-1970). See guide: ‘How to Locate Specific Digital Sanborn Maps for finding tips.


Gale Virtual Reference Library
Includes subject encyclopedias, almanacs, and specialized reference works in broad subject areas.

Grove Art Online Provides background information on cities, buildings, periods, styles, and more. It also contains bibliographies and links to pertinent definitions and images.

Historical Societies:

Preservation Organizations & Resources
A comprehensive directory of historic and cultural resource organizations provides detailed information for organizations located in each State and Province in the United States and Canada.


American Memory
A primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States.

Google Images
For photohgraphs of historic buildings in your town/city, search by name of building.

Using Google – Evaluating websites:
Content: What is the content of the web site: images, articles, a blog? Is the content original or reproduced from another source? If it is reproduced, is there a permission statement indicating this? It is very important to verify that this information is correct and hasn’t been altered.
Purpose: Why was this document produced?
Authority: Who wrote the page and are there credentials? Is the person qualified to write the page?
Ownership: check the domain: .edu, .gov, .com, .org, .net. What institution publishes the document and is their qualifications listed?
Objectivity: Does the webpage present a bias? What opinions (if any) are expressed by the author?
Currency: When was it produced? When was it updated?
Usefulness: Is the web page relevant to the current research project?
Audience: To what type of reader is the web page directed?
Coverage: Does the page cover the topic comprehensively, partially or is it an overview?

Part 1 #4: Identifying building architecture

Architecture & Planning Reference Books:

A field guide to American architecture. Rifkind, C. (1980)
APL Ref NA 705 R53 1980
A comprehensive handbook on American architectural heritage traces the development of architectural styles in the United States, from the simple wood houses of the 17th century to the steel and glass towers of our own day. (illustrations)

American architecture since 1780: a guide to the styles. Whiffen, M. (1992)
APL Ref NA 705 .W47 1992
Contains descriptions, histories, and illustrations of more than forty architectural styles, and has been revised and updated to include two new chapters on late modernism and on post-modernism and another on ‘streamline moderne, ‘ now recognized as an independent style.

How to read buildings : a crash course in architectural styles. Davidson Cragoe, Carol. (2008)
APL Ref NA2550 .C73 2008
Explains how to decode a structure’s style, history, and evolution by recognizing key designs clues, and provides overviews on how geography, history, and religion influenced architecture.

Encyclopedia of vernacular architecture of the world. Oliver, Paul (1997)
APL Ref NA208 .E53 1997
This encyclopedia covers over a diversity of cultures and how their buildings are constructed and lived in by the people.
There are three volumes: The first focuses on the theories, principles and philosophy that underpin traditional architecture. Volumes 2 and 3 consider these principles within specific cultural and societal contexts.

What style is it?: a guide to American architecture. Poppeliers, J. C., Chambers, S. Allen. (2003).
APL Ref NA705 .P6 2003
Architectural style is defined as a definite type of architecture, distinguished by special characteristics of structure and ornament. Includes new sections on Neoclassical, Romanesque and Rustic Styles and examples of how pure styles vary by geographic region across the US. * Includes sections on 25 of the most significant architectural styles including Early Colonial, Federal and Second Empire * More than 200 photos and line drawings make this a visually rich resource. 300f photos and drawings are new to this edition * A glossary offers quick access to architectural terms * Includes an added guide to using the Historical American Buildings Society online catalogue of more than 30,000 historic structures, giving access to more than 51,000 measured drawings, 156,000 photographs and more than 30,000 original historical reports.

Citing your resources:

Citing articles, books, websites: Commonly used styles

Citing images:

Reference (No Author)
Title of work [Type of work]. (Year image was created).
Retrieved from URL (address of web site)

Reference (No Author, No Title, No Date)
Many images found on the Web fall under this category, to locate the missing information by clicking on the image, and/or looking at the bottom of the image.
[Subject and type of work]. Retrieved from URL (address of web site)
(from: George Washington University LibGuides)


Multimedia citations

Part II: Maps:

Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection -(Army Map Service Topographic Map Series)
International Historic, Country & City Maps (on left side menu, after selecting your appropriate map site, use Ctrl F to search for your City/Town)

UB Libraries Map Collection – Topographic map guide by the Map Librarian, David Bertuca.

Google Maps

Citing Maps:

example: Jackson, N. A. (2009). Afghanistan [Ethnological map]. Retrieved from (add url)

Cartographer.(Publication year). Title of Map [Map type]. URL

example: U.S. Census Bureau. Merced, California, 1990 Household Size [map]. 1990. 1:91,302; generated by Deb Peoples; using 1998 TIGER/Line. (7 Feb. 2002).

Author or statement of responsibility. Map Title [map]. Data date if known. Scale; Name of person who generated map; Name of software used to generate the map or “Title of the Complete Document or Site”. (date generated).

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