Skip to Main Content

Researching San Luis Obispo County History

Resources for researching San Luis Obispo County and the Central Coast

Access to San Luis Obispo Newspapers

Online access to San Luis Obispo historic newspapers:

San Luis Obispo newspaper coverage can be searched in several places:

Print and microfilm access to San Luis Obispo County historic newspapers

Cal Poly Student Newspaper

Search tips for searching newspapers and published materials

Tips for searching online: 

  • Use quotation marks to search a phrase. Searching "International Students" will search for that phrase, rather than any use of international AND student.
  • Use Ctrl+F (PC) or Command+F (Mac) to search keywords inside a pdf.
  • Create an advanced search that searches the years you are focusing on to get targeted results
  • When you find a helpful source, see what terms the authors are using. Then try searching those terms as keywords.
  • Can't find what you are looking for? Try to broaden your search.
  • Searching for individuals: start with a search by their last name. Then expand. For example, I could be referred to as "Sorvetti," "Ms. Sorvetti", "Laura Sorvetti" "Laura Ann Sorvetti", "L. Sorvetti," "L.A.Sorvetti"....
  • If you find a specific news story, browse the issues before and after that article to see if there were any follow-up or related articles.
  • Sometimes people misspelled names, places or other words! Try searching different terms that may have been used. For example, local merchant Ah Louis was also referred to in the papers as "Ah Luis."
  • Some advanced search interfaces will allow you to search with a "wildcard," usually an asterisk. The asterisk (*) can be used to search variables of a word. For example, educat* will tell the database to look for all possible endings of that root. Results may include educate, educated, education, educational, educator, etc.

Please note that you may encounter materials that include offensive, derogatory, and out-of-date perspectives, images, and terms. 


The computer uses something called "Optical Character Recognition" (OCR) to read scanned text pages. If the original page is hard to read, the computer may not produce good OCR and the text will not be read by the computer correctly. See this example from a scan of the Cal Poly student newspaper: Side by side comparison: what an article looks like versus what the computer reads

Sometimes you may not find what you are searching for because the computer did not read the text correctly! Try many different keywords to search if you are not finding what you are looking for.