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Search Tips - Motion Picture Film

Starting Your Search
Words in film description: Enter any word into the first search box to bring up films that have descriptive data containing that word.
Subject terms: Will retrieve results if your keywords match subject terms used in cataloging the publication. See Index Terms below for further explanation.
Limit search to main topic: You may search all films or limit your search to a specific topic from the drop down menu, such as "Streets and Traffic."
Time period: You may narrow your search by choosing a specific time period from the drop-down box.
Documents per page: Choose the number of documents that will appear on each page of your search results by using the "Documents per Page" box.

Search Results
Your search results will appear as a list of films and associated item numbers. Clicking on the film title will provide a fuller description of the film, including the producer, the date, length and running time, color or black and white, silent or sound, and whether or not there is a digital copy.

Wild Cards
These two characters can be helpful if you're uncertain of the spelling of a name or word, or if you want to bring up records that contain related words with the same stem.

  • ?: A question mark matches any single character.
  • $: A dollar sign matches any ending to a word root.
  • For example:
    • theat?? : matches theater or theatre
    • theat$ : matches theater, theatre, theatrical, etc.

Index Terms
If your keywords are not retrieving the results you expect, you may want to browse our
thesaurus. This is a list of standardized subject terms we use to maintain consistency in our cataloging. For example, we use the term "landfills"; if you are searching on "dumps," your search may not bring up all the relevant records.

Advanced Searching
By default the search operator "and" is inserted between any two terms entered into the search field. This means that if you enter more than one search term, only records containing all of those terms will be retrieved. Some terms will help further define your search:

  • or: Connecting search terms with "or" will retrieve records that contain any one of the terms.
  • "": Quotation marks can be used around a phrase to bring up records containing that exact phrase.
  • near: Using "near" to connect search terms will retrieve records where those terms appear in the same sentence (in any order). To be more precise, you may add a number; for example, "near3" will retrieve records containing the two terms within three words of each other.

Note that the words and, or, near, with, and same are not searchable terms.

Restricting a Search to a Database Field
Sometimes it is helpful to restrict a search to a certain field in a database record. To do this, enter your search term followed by a dot, then the field code, then another dot. Searching on "col.col.." will retrieve all films in color; a search on "bw.col." will retrieve all black and white films. Field names for the Archives Motion Picture Film Index are:

ID Record Series ID
TI Film title
SUB Subject terms
BOX Box Number
NUM Item Number
ONUM Original ID Number
ACC Accession Number
DATE Date
NAT Nature of film
COL Color of film
LEN Size code
CON Condition
NOTE Notes
CRED Main Credits
CONN Condition notes
SND Sound
SPD Projection speed
GAU Film gauge (mm)
NAME Names
PRFM Print form
PLAC Place of publication
SUM Summary of film's contents
ACMT Accompanying material

Searching by Date
To retrieve items from a particular year or span of years, restrict the search to the Date field, in combination with any other fields, using the following format:
@date>=19770000 and @date<=19790000
This example would retrieve all items published in 1977 and 1978. 1977 is the year, the next four digits represent the month and day; using zeros requires the search to include the entire year.

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