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HIS 270 - American Environmental History

The guide provides resources relevant to the history of the American environment, paying particular attention to the impact of European settlement on the landscape and the subsequent commodification of resources that defined the American experience.

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are three words that can help you combine search terms in ways that will narrow and broaden your searches. Many databases, search engines, and catalogs use them.


Use the Boolean operator AND to combine two keywords in a search. The result is a set of hits that contains only items in which both of the keywords appear. This narrows the search. 


Use the Boolean operator OR to combine two keywords. The result is a set of hits that contains either of the selected keywords, which thereby broadens the search.


Use the Boolean operator NOT to remove items with the identified keyword from a search. This is another strategy to narrow a search.


Synonyms and alternate terms

Before you search, it's a good idea to take some time and write down some keywords for your topic. You should include synonyms because many times databases will index articles that apply to your topic under synonyms. For example, film, movie, cinema, motion-picture are four words that describe a similar concept. Don't get stuck on one term and think of alternate terms or even related concepts. 


When you search, often times the database or search engine you are using may index articles under different forms of the word. For example banking and bankers. In order to avoid missing out on some good results, you should try truncating your search topic. In the above case, you'd revert to a root, such as bank and place an asterisk after it, like this: bank*. This will retrieve all variant endings of a word, including bank, banks, bankers, banking

Be careful of truncating too much, which may lead to results you don't want.


In some databases you can substitute a "?" character for a letter, to search for variant spellings and combinations. By inputting wom?n into your search, you are searching for woman and women.