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Search Tips - Subject Files

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 four pieces of information: the record series number, which will be a six-digit number in the form of 0000-00; the box and folder number, expressed as 1/1 (this would be box 1, folder 1); the dates covered by materials in that file; and the folder title. If you would like Archives staff to retrieve a file for use in the research room, they will need to know the record series number and the box/folder number.

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.

Clicking on the record series number will bring you to a description of the series as a whole, including the creating agency. Clicking on the folder title will bring up a record for that folder. This will sometimes provide additional information about the file. However, it does not link to a digitized version of the file.

Index Terms
This database does not include standardized subject terms from our thesaurus, only the folder titles themselves. You may need to be creative in your search terms to retrieve all the records on a particular topic. For example, some agencies may have used the term "waterfront" in their folder titles while others used "harborfront." You would need to search on both terms to retrieve all the files that may pertain to that subject.

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 "1952.bgyr." will retrieve all records where the beginning of the file's date span is 1952. Field names for the Subject File Index are:

SER Series code
BOX Box number
FOLD Folder number
BGYR Beginning year
ENYR Ending year
TI Title
FC File code
NUM Associated file number
SUB Subject
INFO Series information link
SCAN Link to digital content

Searching by Date
To retrieve items from a particular year or span of years, restrict the search to the Beginning Year or End Year 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.

Searching for digital content
To retrieve all digital content search: $PDF.SCAN.
You can narrow this search by combing it with a series number.

Search the database