The bay area of central California is a wonderful place to start research on Steinbeck due to the fact that there are many centers dedicated to collecting, preserving, archiving and sharing his work, letters, and any artifacts that may correlate with Steinbeck in any way. Although this is helpful for scholars who are interested in working on any number of topics relating to Steinbeck, there can also be a bit of information overload. Knowing where to go and what to look for can be very useful. A great place to start is the Salinas Steinbeck Center, which can be enjoyed as a family or with friends due to the interactive museum structure. There you can find everything from family photos, movie clips, posters, letters and much more. However, be warned that if you are searching for something specific you must make an appointment with the archivist in advance and obtain permission to view material in a private room. Therefore, Salinas Steinbeck Center may not be the most scholarly environment if you are just touring with the general public, but you never know what you might stumble upon that will foster further research. For instance, the 1947 version of La Perla is out of circulation and almost impossible to view. Thankfully the Salinas Steinbeck Center shows short clips of the film which provides a rare glimpse of the elusive film.
Another advantageous place to visit, which focuses less on entertainment and more on scholarly material, is the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies located on the SJSU campus in the MLK Library. Although this center may be smaller than the Salinas Steinbeck center, do not let the size fool you. There is an abundance of material from personal letters to books translated in multiple languages. Give yourself plenty of time to explore these treasure because there is a lot to see and time can get away from you when you are lost in a sea of new and exciting research. The curator is very helpful and it seems to be open to the public since no ID is required nor any type of appointment. Feel free to ask those at the desk any question you may have or just inform them what you are searching for and they will be a tremendous help. They are knowledgeable in regards to what and where items are that we may never find on our own.
One last place to check out if you are visiting the Salinas Steinbeck Center then you might as well walk to the end of Main Street and head over to the public library. This is the original home of the Salinas Steinbeck Center, and although they have donated most of their material to the nearby center, they still have a nice little collection of their own. There is a range of items they carry, some photographs, letters as well as reference books. All in all it is worth searching through - you never know what you might find.