Try to find the company's Web site and look for a link called "investor relations" or similar heading. Many public companies will provide information here about the stock exchange on which their shares are sold. If the company's stock is sold on an exchange, it's a public company.
Go to EDGAR, the free Web database provided by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) at http://www.sec.gov/edgar/searchedgar/companysearch.html. Click "Search for company filings" then "Company or fund name..." and enter the company name. If you find reports in EDGAR, that means the company is public.
Ask for help at the reference desk in Waterfield Library.
Finding background information
Why start with background information?
Gain familiarity with the topic
Identify more specific aspects of the topic on which to focus
Provide context and identify differing perspectives