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Search Tips - Archives Guide

Starting Your Search
Enter any keyword into the search box to bring up records that contain that word. You can choose the number of documents that will appear on each page of your search results.

Search Results
Your search results will appear as a list. Each item will include the agency that created the records, followed by the name of the record series. Clicking on the series name will bring up a description of the series, including dates, volume of material, description, and subject terms. Many records have links to a full list of folder titles within the series. The ID at the top of the page is the unique identifier for the record series; use this six-digit number with Archives staff if you have a question or request pertaining to these records.

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 "police.sub." will retrieve all records where the word "police" appears in the Subject field. Field names for the Archives Guide are:

TI Title
ID Record Series ID
GRP Record group
VOL Volume
DES Series description
FA Finding aids available
SUB Subject terms
YRS Years
GTI Group record title
GNAM Group record name
GDES Group description

Searching by Date
To retrieve items from a particular year or span of years, restrict the search to the Years 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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