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WRPR 192: Photography & Empire (HC)

Writing Program 192: Photography & Empire (Bissonauth) Spring 2019

Tips for Searching Part 1

If you search a catalog or database and receive a large number of results, add a limit or additional keyword in order to retrieve a manageable and relevant number of results to review.  At the same time overly narrow search terms can return too few results.  One way of solving both problems is to use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), which allow you to limit or expand searches depending on your needs.

For example, a search for portrait  AND photography will return items that contain both concepts:

artistic OR aesthetic* making returns items that contain either one of the concepts or both:

united states NOT latin america returns items that talk about the United States of America but do not mention Latin America:

Phrase searching:

An important strategy to use when searching for phrases ("black and white") or titles:

For example, "Day in its Color"

will search for those words in that order, finding the 2012 book   The Day in Its Color: Charles Cushman's Photographic Journey through a Vanishing America

Truncation and Wildcards:

Most catalogs and databases enable users to search variations of keywords by using truncation (*) or wildcard (e.g., ?, $, !) symbols.

For example, one could search for politic*  to find poltic, politics, political, politicking, and so on.

Wildcard searches are for differences within words: a search for wom?n will return results for woman, women, and womyn.

Nested Searching:

When pairing two or more keywords with another keyword, it is important to "nest" the former terms within a larger Boolean search.

photograph*  AND  history  AND  20th  AND ("united states" OR america*)  will return results for the union of the three subject areas
Results include:  Patricia Vettel-Becker. Shooting from the Hip: Photography, Masculinity, and Postwar America.   University of Minnesota Press, 2005.


Tips for Searching Part 2

Subject Headings allow you to find relevant material grouped together including titles that do not use the keywords you may be searching.


Finding subject headings

       Look at a book record in Tripod, check the subjects assigned to it, and choose whatever ones are relevant for your research.

Example:   The Genius of Color Photography: From the Autochrome to the Digital Age

By Pam Roberts .  Goodman, 2010.


               color photography  history

               color photography  processing  history

               photography, artistic

               color photography


   Subject search   color photography  =  163 results


Refining subject searches

                        You can combine different concepts into a single subject search for precision.  The results are more focused than a keyword search.

                         But all the words have to be terminology used in library subject cataloging.

                         To ensure this, you can use subject headings you have already found.  Another option is to browse in the subject headings for more choices.                   

                          Combination subject search:

  Subject: photography  AND Keyword: (color AND history)  =  290  results

                        Searches a combination of terms concerning color photography