Student Spotlight – Therese Boles

Meet fourth-year UCLA undergraduate researcher Therese Boles!

Therese majors in History and is in our Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. The title of her research project is “Sensationalism! Newspaper Coverage at the Homestead Strike of 1892.”

How did you first get interested in your research project?

My research project had its beginnings during my first year at UCLA. I took the class “The American Gilded Age (1865-1900)” with Professor Joan Waugh, and fell in love with this period of America’s history. I then developed an appreciation for researching with newspapers during my third year when I took a seminar on “Loyalists in the American Revolution” with Professor Craig. There, I researched a Loyalist newspaper printed in New York during the war, which sparked my curiosity about how newspapers operate and shape public opinion.

I decided to combine my interests in the Gilded Age and newspapers by studying the news coverage of the great Homestead Strike that occurred in 1892 at a steel mill belonging to “robber baron” Andrew Carnegie. Contemporary questions about “fake news” inspired the lens for my investigation: How were newspapers involved in this conflict? What was their coverage like? How did coverage change based on the source? Did readers trust the news? Did it affect their response to the strike? I’m hoping to answer all of these questions by telling the story of newspapers at Homestead.

What has been the most exciting aspect of your research so far?

The most exciting part of my research has been getting to travel and research at archives in Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. One of the archives I visited was in the very building that the journalists operated in during the Homestead Strike. It was one of those surreal “bridge-between-time” moments.

What has surprised you about your research or the research process?

I have been surprised at how hard it is to keep a narrow scope when researching. When there is a wealth of sources and you find it all interesting, you have to be very mindful about sticking to researching ideas or events that are most relevant to your topic.

What is one piece of advice you have for other UCLA students thinking about doing research?

Go into research with a sense of curiosity and a love for the search! Sure, research looks good on your resume. But it’s not worth it unless you enjoy the process.

What effect do you hope your research has in your field, at UCLA, in your community, or in the world?

First, I hope to inform and entertain readers with a story that has not yet been told—the story of newspaper coverage at the 1892 Homestead Strike. But I also hope that the story gives readers a sense of affinity with the Gilded Age Americans of the past, for their relationship with the news is surprisingly similar to our own.