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COM 120: Public Discourse: Community Research

Getting started

Good places to look online for information on your community or hometown include:

  • Your county or city public library's website. Often, local public libraries maintain a webpage and links to your town's history

  • The official website for your town or city (for example, http://www.co.nicollet.mn.us/).  You can often find links to information on your town's history, founders, etc. 

  • The website of your local newspaper. Check to see if archival access (access to older issues) is provided.

Researching Your Community

  • Media Representatives: People who work for newspapers, radio and television stations, outdoor advertisers, know a lot about your community. Talk to them and also learn about the available communication channels in your marketplace.
  • In-depth Interviews: Talk to community leaders, business owners, nonprofit groups, anyone who deals with the public locally. Make it a point to get to know the “gatekeepers” of your targeted community.
  • Libraries/Archives/Historical Societies: Get to know your local librarian, he/she knows where to find resources you might overlook.
  • Government Agencies: Your local school board, chamber of commerce, economic development authority often publish important statistics that may be relevant to your project.
  • Churches/Ministerial Associations: You might interview religious leaders in the area.  Pastors who’ve served a dozen years in a community should be very aware of local issues and trends in an area.
  • Original Research Projects: You can conduct your own original surveys, interviews, and focus groups. A simple door-to-door survey could offer tremendous new insights about your community.
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