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Spark 001 - Life & Death in the Old West (Torres-Rouff)

Resources & strategies for newspaper assignment

Generating Keywords

As you read your newspaper, what place, people, activities, themes, and issues are surfaced?  Consider using these terms in searching for books or articles.

Place (city/state/region): San Francisco, Idaho, “mining camp”, “Boise Basin”, rural, frontier, "American West", "Central Valley"

People: common folk, Chinese, Mormons, migrants, Native Americans, French Argonauts, working class, farmworkers, laborers

Occupation: butcher, merchant, blacksmith, miner, laundress

Activity: Gold Rush, farming, strike, concerts/entertainment, travel, entrepreneurship, martial law

Organization: unions, law enforcement

Themes or Issues: property distribution/ownership, economy, jobs, unskilled labor, transient, mobility, wages, martial law, discrimination, class, stratification

Phrase Searching


" "

To search for specific phrases, enclose them in quotation marks. The database will search for those words together in that order.


“Boise basin”

"property ownership"

"19th century"

Boolean Operators (AND/OR)



Join together search terms in a logical manner.

AND - narrows searches, used to join dissimilar terms

Sample Searches Using AND:

Search #1
farming AND drought


Search #2




Boolean Operator (OR)



Join together search terms in a logical manner.
OR - broadens searches, used to join similar terms

Sample Searches Using OR/AND:

Search #1
wages OR salary


Search #2


policies OR regulation OR legislation


"San Francisco"


Search #3

violence OR fight


strike OR walkout




Truncate a word in order to search for different forms of the same word. Many database use the asterisk * as the truncation symbol.


Truncate the word econom* and you will search for economy, economic, economics, economical etc.

Add the truncation symbol to the word politic* to search for politics, political, politician,  etc.