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Search Tips - Photographs

Starting Your Search
Enter search terms: Enter any word into the first search box to bring up photos that have descriptive data containing that word.
Time period: You may narrow your search by choosing a specific time period from the drop-down box.
Neighborhood district: You may also limit results to one neighborhood district.
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. If you have a high-speed internet connection, you may wish to select a higher number.

Search Results
Your search results will appear as thumbnail images with some basic information to the right. Click on the image to see a larger view along with the full catalog record. The Item Number is the image's unique identifier; use this number with Archives staff if you have a question or request pertaining to an image.

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.

House Photos
Information on how to find a photo of a house may be found elsewhere on this website.

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.

Neighborhoods
Neighborhood districts are determined using the Seattle City Clerk's Office Neighborhood Map Atlas. If your search on a specific neighborhood isn't bringing up the results you expect, you may want to consult the atlas to check the name we have used for the area.

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. For example, searching on "jones.phot." will retrieve all records where the name Jones appears in the Photographer field. Field names for the Photograph Index are:

ID Record Series ID
DES Item description
SUB Subject terms
BOX Box Number
NUM Item Number
ONUM Original ID Number
DATE Date
TYPE Item Type
NP Negative/Positive
SIZE Size code
CON Condition
NOTE Notes
ACC Accession Number
CONN Condition notes
PR Print
DI Digital image
OTH Other related item number
NAME Names
PHOT Photographer

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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