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MapLab: A People’s Guide Maps the Hidden History of Orange County

A detail from a map of Anaheim in A People’s Guide to Orange County shows lesser-known historic locations around the Southern California city. 

A detail from a map of Anaheim in A People’s Guide to Orange County shows lesser-known historic locations around the Southern California city. 

Map by John Carroll/University of California Press

To many minds, Orange County, California, is a place defined by Disneyland, beaches and an air of wealthy conservatism. But it is far more diverse and discordant than that prim reputation suggests, and a new atlas reveals a complex history that is in some cases literally buried beneath the amusement parks and citrus groves.    

Published in January 2022, A People’s Guide to Orange County is not only a resource for locals eager to learn about the labor struggles, Indigenous histories and cultural geography of a vast domain where some 3.2 million people make their homes. The fourth edition in an ongoing series from University of California Press, it is one of several recent map-heavy books that push back on conventional narratives of seemingly well-known places. From Rebecca Solnit’s atlases of New York, New Orleans and San Francisco, to Belt Publishing’s Detroit in 50 Maps, these are books that surface the lesser-known stories —particularly those of marginalized groups – and show how they still reverberate through present-day space.