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Digital Collection Search Tips: HPU Archives

Search Tips for viewing our digital collections via CONTENTdm.

Digital Collection Search Tips

Using the Simple Search

The simple search box (in the header of the website) searches for items across all fields in all collections for all terms that you put in the search box, in any order. For example, if you search for "john smith", the search engine searches for items containing "john" AND "smith" – this will return results for John, Smith, and John Smith. (Click Advanced Search to use other types of searches such as the ‘exact phrase’ search which would only return results for the entire phrase John Smith.)

The simple search also supports the use of a wildcard operator that enables you to search for approximate terms. Using an asterisk (*) at the end of a search term will search for results with none, or any number of any characters appended to the root search term. For example, test* will find results with the words "test," "tests," "tested" and so on.

New Search

After using the simple search or Advanced Search, you can start a new simple search by typing the new search term. To clear an Advanced Search, click the Clear button.

Refining Your Search

After using the simple search or Advanced Search, you can make your initial results more specific by choosing from the keywords listed on the left-hand side of the screen on larger screens, or by clicking the Refine button on smaller screens. You also can add or remove collections from the search.

If you have narrowed your search too far, you can step back and display previous results by removing the keywords you used in your search path (click the X next to the search term displayed at the top of your results).

Using the Advanced Search

The Advanced Search pane enables you to select specific collections or search across all collections and to build a more complex search query on selected fields. The Advanced Search option is in the upper right-hand corner.

Building Your Search

First determine which search to use (across all fields, by selected fields or by date). The default selection is to search across all fields.

Then build your query and specify the collections to search. Add more search fields by clicking Add Row and selecting a connector (And or Or). Reduce the number of search fields by clicking Remove. You can have as many as four search fields and as few as one field.

Advanced Search offers four search types (or operators):

All of the words — searches for all of the words in any order. Using Boolean logic, this search is similar to using "AND". For instance, if you entered "Dennis H. Cooke" in this search box, the search results would return only those items containing all three terms. Do not include "AND" with your search terms. The Boolean operator "AND" is used automatically with the All of the words search and will be ignored if it is entered as a search term.

The exact phrase — searches for all of the words in the exact order. This is similar to using quotation marks in other search engines. For instance, if you were searching for "Dr. Dennis Cooke", search results would contain only those items that contain the phrase "Dr. Dennis Cooke". We recommend the exact phrase search to get more precise results.

Any of the words — searches for any of the words entered in the search box. Using Boolean logic, this search is similar to using "OR". For instance, if you entered "Dr. Dennis Cooke" in this search box, the search results would contain all items containing any of the three terms, including results with only "Dr.", only "Dennis", and only "Cooke". Do not include "OR" with your search terms. The Boolean operator "OR" is used automatically with the Any of the words search and will be ignored if it is entered as a search term.

None of the words — use this option with any of the other search boxes to exclude a term. Using Boolean logic, this search is similar to using "NOT". For instance, if you entered "Dr. Cooke" in the exact phrase search box and "Dennis" in this search box, the search results would contain all items containing "Dr. Cooke" that do not contain the word "Dennis". Do not include "NOT" with your search terms. The Boolean operator "NOT" is used automatically with the None of the words search and will be ignored if it is entered as a search term.

Note: If you build a search query of multiple search fields that uses more than one type of connector, the query is executed from left to right, regardless of the connector.

Advanced Search supports the use of a wildcard operator that enables you to search for approximate terms. Using an asterisk (*) at the end of a search term will search for results with none, or any number of any characters appended to the root search term. For example, test* will find results with the words "test," "tests," "tested" and so on.

Search By Date

You also have the option to search by date within collections. The default mode searches across all fields. Use the drop-down list to specify a date range, or to search after, before, between or on a particular date. Entering a year (yyyy) is required to perform a search. You also can search by year and month, or by month and day and year.

Viewing Your Results

Results are set to display in a grid. Above the Thumbnail column are options for changing your viewing preferences. You can also select the number of items to display and sort them by Title, Subject, or Description.

For items with multiple pages or images, click on the thumbnail on the right to view each image. Page level information, such as transcripts, will appear at the bottom of the screen under the heading Description. At the top of the scrolling column of thumbnails, you can search the text of the object.

You’ll notice that pages where the word occurs have a red bar highlighting the edge of the thumbnail. If the document is transcribed, the word will be highlighted orange or yellow in the Transcript field below the main image, and potentially in the document scan itself (remember that the software that reads words (OCR) isn’t always perfect).

You can zoom in and zoom out on the image or scan and expand with a click. When you expand the scan, it will automatically open to the correct page and show highlighted terms. You also have the option to download or print a copy.

Below the image viewer and the transcription field, you’ll find the Object Description, which lists details of the object as a whole, and the Item Description, which lists details of the particular page you’re looking at, if your item has multiple pages. If the descriptions include linked text, you can click on the word to search for related items that include that term in the same field.

One of the most helpful fields on the page is the Transcript, which is a word-for-word typed version of the original text shown in the image viewer. To see the transcript, click on the bar labeled “Transcript” between the image viewer and the Object Description. This can help you decipher difficult-to-read text and find names and keywords.