Well, that really should be “Five of My Favorite Places on That There Interweb for Finding Cool Stuff About Interesting Thing.”
#1. Wikipedia: An amazing resource for basic and, often detailed, information about almost anything. Constantly updated. With links to outside sources and examples (photos, music, etc.). If you don’t know Wikipedia, um, what rock have you been under? Beware, however, Wiki can lead to tangents galore!
#2. Google: The next stop after Wiki. Search pictures and video for reference materials. I’ve found: cars from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s; video of Thailand; 0riginal sales brochure for The Langham in New York City; photos of New York soup lines and Depression era shantytowns, and so on. Video research is particularly helpful for getting the sights, sounds, and atmosphere correct for places you’ve never visited. (Yeah, ’cause it’s pretty unlikely I went to Siam in 1906.)
#3. fashion-era: For illustrations, photos, discussion, and details of clothing, costume history, and social history affecting fashion. The site covers 1800 to modern day; it’s a bit haphazard in its site architecture, but well worth the journey. (Perfect resource for the little clothing details that grounded Matilde in the Edwardian era.) This is an addictive site.
#4. Maps: Sure you can go to Mapquest, Google Maps, and Google Earth, but The David Rumsey Map Collection is invaluable for historical research. The collection contains over 150,000 rare and antique maps from the 1700s to the 1950s; 21,000 of which are viewable online. I use the LUNA browser to navigate and view the maps. And, yes, you can enlarge the individual maps. This is heaven for me. I know, I know, I’m weird. Ooooh, David Rumsy, I love you.
#5. Google Books/Project Gutenburg/Bibliopoly: Love ‘em all, but Bibliopoly in particular; no surprise, I’m sure. It’s a database of rare and antiquarian books searchable by subject. Each entry includes a description and, in many cases, pictures of the book. (This was an invaluable resource when I was searching for books to populate Bartholomew’s shelves.) Added bonus, the books are for sale and you can see some mind-boggling prices.