Lesson 5 is all about using Boolean searches to find online newspaper articles. This lesson will discuss the basics of using these types of searches and why you should use them.
Boolean searching was developed by George Boole, an English mathematician.
Boolean searches provide the ability to combine words and phrases using the operators AND, OR, NOT to refine your search.
For example, let's say you have a person that you are looking for that has a common name such as "John Smith." You know that a simple search nation-wide or state-wide would provide too many results for you to ponder. But what if he lived in a smaller town, such as Saugatuck, Michigan. A good search criteria would be "John Smith" AND Saugatuck. This would narrow the search results to articles that contain the phrase "John Smith" and those articles that contain the word "Saugatuck". See how this would help you?
How about trying a "NOT" example? Lets say you were looking for someone named "John Dulles". If you did a search for John Dulles you would likely get a preponderance of results for John Foster Dulles, who was President Eisenhower's Secretary of State. So to find "your" John Dulles you would enter "John Dulles" NOT Foster.
The use of the operator "OR" operates similarly, except OR would provide results with pages with any of the words that you specify. You can also combine multiple operators in one search.
Depending on the online collection's software, you can sometimes actually write the AND, OR or NOT in the search box: Others use a little bit different approach, as the two examples below utilize.
Phrase searching is an offshoot of the Boolean AND. Our research criteria of "John Smith" in double quotes, is an example of searching for a phrase. It operates similarly to John AND Smith. HOWEVER - a phrase search implies that the words John and Smith are right next to each other in the text, while John AND Smith do not necessarily have to be next to each other on the page. There is a difference.
So make use of Boolean searches in developing your search criteria. Whether you use AND or NOT to refine, or OR to provide more possibilities, these operators along with searching for phrases in double quotes will definitely improve the results that you get by leaps and bounds over just entering a name in a search box.