A basic keyword search may be completed by using the search box on the Home Page or by using the search box in the upper-right corner of the masthead on every single page. A keyword search will pull results from across all available digital records and will search within both the metadata as well as any available transcriptions (the search will not, however, return results from the literal transcriptions). The results will be, by default, sorted by relevancy.

If you wish to search for a specific phrase or name, use quotation marks around your search. For example, a keyword search for John Smith will pull all results that include the words "John" or "Smith". Meanwhile, a keyword search for "John Smith" will only pull results that include the exact phrase bounded by the quotation marks.

Boolean terms such as AND, OR, and NOT cannot be applied to a basic keyword search; in order to use Boolean terms in your search, please use the Advanced Search feature.

When on a specific collection page, all of which may be accessed under Manuscript Collections, you may perform a basic keyword search for records found only within that collection. The search box will appear to the right of the title of the collection as shown here.

When looking at a single record, you may perform a keyword search that will search only within that record. The search will pull results from both the record's metadata as well as any transcription. This search box appears to the right of the record's title as shown here.

When looking at a record's metadata, or at the information in a records summary box, you will notice words and phrases which are encircled by a grey button. These are controlled vocabulary terms. Clicking on any of these terms will bring you to a search results page with the results showing only items that also have that same controlled vocabulary term. This kind of search can be very useful to find similar and related items, even across collections.

The advanced search functionality may be used to perform significantly more complex keyword searches. The Advanced Search page may be reached by clicking the "Advanced search" link that appears beneath both the search box on the home page and beneath the search box that appears in the masthead of every page.

Keyword Search Dropdown

The keyword search dropdown, which defaults to "Keywords Anywhere", may be used to further define what metadata field, or fields, a keyword search may pull results from. The default "Keywords Anywhere" option indicates that the search will pull results from across all fields, including transcriptions. The other options will limit search results, for a given word or phrase, to specific text-based metadata fields such as the "Title" field or "Description" field.

Search Terms and Phrases

Use the "Search" box to input a term or phrase which you wish to search for. You may use any alphanumeric values in this field, though for best results we suggest using complete words. Unlike basic searches, if you input multiple words into a single search box, the system will pull results as though you had used quotation marks around the whole set of words. For example, when using the advanced search, inputting "holy order" (without the quotation marks) will search specifically for the phrase "holy order" rather than searching for records that contain either the words "holy" or "order".

Boolean Operator Dropdown

Boolean operators allow for complex searches using multiple keywords or phrases and may help to either expand or limit the results of a single search. The AND option will pull results that include both keyword terms or phrases. The OR option will pull results which include either keyword terms or phrases. The NOT option will limit results to those results which do not contain the keyword or phrase used after NOT. A search may include as many Boolean operators as desired.

MIT has produced an excellent guide to searching databases with Boolean operators. The guide also includes visualizations for how Booleans work: Database Search Tips: Boolean operators.

Further Refining a Search

Advanced searches may be further refined beyond the use of keyword searches and Boolean operators. You may limit your search to a specific period of time by including a date, or date range, in your search. For best results, we recommend using only the year field when limiting a search by dates. Results may be further limited and refined by selecting terms from the metadata categories listed below the date range field. Note, these terms may be applied to a search even after the search has been run.

Rerunning a Search

Searches, including both basic searches and advanced searches, that have been run during your current session will display on the right in the "Previous Searches" box. Simply click the desired hyperlinked term to rerun that specific search.