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Topic Guides - Social Studies

This how-to guide helps students and their parents navigate resources connected to Social Studies topics.

Search Terms

Specific key words or phrases are necessary to find information in databases or the library catalog. We recommend: 

  • Migration
  • Settlers / Homesteaders
  • Miners
  • Transcontinental Railroad
  • Native American Indian Reservation
  • California Gold Rush
  • Territorial Growth
  • Louisiana Purchase
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition
  • Mexican-American War
  • Oregon Trail

Search Strategies

  • You can use search terms to find books in the library catalog and eBooks or eAudiobooks in the eLibrary.
  • To narrow your search, type two terms into a search bar in this format: "Term 1" AND "Term 2". This search will only provide resources that include both terms. Combine any two search terms from the box into a database search bar to see what you find. 
  • Find more database search tips on the Debate Issues & Paper Topics guide, in the Database Search Tops box. 

Standards and Knowledge Building

This guide is connected to the following Colorado Academic Standards 

  • Interpret geographic and environmental data to understand how competition over land and resources shaped the development of the early United States. For example: Establishing the Mason/Dixon line, development of railroads, the Louisiana Purchase, and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
  • Compare how differing geographic perspectives apply to a historic issue
  • Analyze the push and pull factors that shaped immigration to and migration within the early United States. For example: Economic opportunities, religious refuge, and forced migration

This guide will support students by building further knowledge in: 

  • Different library resources –what they are and how they are useful for finding information relevant to a U.S. history and western expansion class.
  • How to effectively find articles, primary sources, and other materials to support the study of the U.S. history and western expansion.
  • How to effectively find information in these sources using search terms.


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Mikaela Fortune
5550 N. Union Blvd.
Colorado Springs, CO
(719) 531-6333

Welcome to the Westward Expansion Topic Guide!


Databases are subject-specific search engines that provide access to journal articles and other reliable resources. The following PPLD databases are recommended for students studying Westward Expansion:

Reference Materials

Reference materials are things like encyclopedias and handbooks that provide quick facts and summaries of different subjects. The following encyclopedias and dictionaries in the PPLD catalog support the study of Westward Expansion:

Reference materials are things like encyclopedias and handbooks that provide quick facts and summaries of different subjects. The following books in the PPLD catalog support the study of Western Expansion:

Explore (multimedia and recommended websites)

You can use trusted, online sources to find information. For more information on reliable, online sources, please visit PPLD’s Debate Issues & Paper Topics guide. PPLD recommends:

Use these multimedia sources to watch or listen to information on this topic.