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Archives at Yale: Staff Training: Searching

Using the new public user interface for Yale Special Collections

The Search Box

You can search collections directly from Archives at Yale's landing page. To return to this search box from anywhere on the site, click on the Search icon in the top menu bar. 

Archives at Yale's main search box

Entering Your Search Terms

  • If you use 1-3 search terms, Archives at Yale will return matches containing all of those words (anywhere in the record, not necessarily side by side). Therefore, searching for: Spanish Civil War will retrieve the same results as searching for: Spanish AND Civil AND War.
  • If you use 4 or more search terms, Archives at Yale will return matches containing most of those words.
  • You can use quotation marks " "  to search as a phrase. Searching for "Spanish Civil War" will return results containing the 3 terms in that exact order. 
  • You can use the Boolean operators ANDNOTOR between search terms. 
  • Alternatively, you can input a first search term in the box, and add a new search row for each additional search term by expanding the plus (+) sign. A drop-down menu will allow you to select the relevant Boolean operator.

Drop-down menu for Boolean operators between search rows

Searching All Record Types vs. Collections

By default, Archives at Yale will retrieve results matching your search terms from all types of records in its database. An icon identifies each record type. Your results may include:

  • Collections Collection icon
    • Also called Resource records in ArchivesSpace
    • When possible, Archives at Yale puts collections at the top of your results list.
  • Individual parts of a collectionSeries iconPart of Collection icon
    • Also called Archival components or Archival objects
    • Series, subseries, files, items, etc.
  • Subjects Subject icon
    • Controlled vocabularies for topical and genre/forms terms
  • Names Person IconOrganization icon
    • Standardized headings for persons and organizations
  • Unprocessed materials Unprocessed icon
    • ‚ÄčAccession records from repositories who have elected to publish them (as of August 2018, only the Beinecke Library). 

If you want to search collection-level information only, find the option "Limit to collections" in the drop-down menu under "Search all record types".

Option to limit results to collections

With "Limit to collections", Archives at Yale will search for matches in collection-level fields (Title, Description of the Papers, Biographical / Historical Note, Subjects, etc). In the ArchivesSpace back-end, it queries resource records, but not accession records. Therefore, a "Limit to collections" search will not return matches from unprocessed materials.

Searchable Field Selections

A drop-down menu offers 5 search field options :

  1. Keyword: Is the default setting.
  2. Title: Retrieves file titles, series titles, etc. in addition to collection titles (unless you limit to collections only).
  3. Creator: Only searches the agent links coded as “creators” in the ArchivesSpace resource record. This usually represents the person(s) or corporate body responsible for creating the collection, though sometimes different creators has been identified for individual components of collections. Not all repositories at Yale have used this metadata field consistently over the years. 
  • Tips to find persons:
    • Use a title search: Naming conventions mandates to record the name of a collection’s creator in the collection’s title. Additionally, the format for correspondence file titles typically include names.
    • Use a keyword search: It will retrieve names mentioned in descriptive notes, titles, name headings, etc. The creator field does not capture all the individuals and corporate bodies who created materials in a single collection.
  1. Subject: Refers to the standardized subject headings assigned to a collection, or to a component part of the collection. Includes topical terms, geographic places, and genre/form terms. Does not include personal names added as agent links in ArchivesSpace (even if coded as a “subject” agent). To browse by name headings, navigate to the Names tab in the top menu bar.
  2. Call number: Is the collection's unique identifier. Therefore, this is the only field that automatically limits results to collections only. You do not need to use quote to retrieve an exact match. However, some call number formats will match multiple results (e.g. searching MSS 52 returns MSS 52, OSB MSS 52, YCAL MSS 52).

Limiting Searches

Limiting by date:              

The main search box, and the Filter Results box allow you to limit your search to specific years. They will limit results to those with date spans overlapping with the years you input as parameters.

Beware that the collection or component date(s) may not exactly match your search parameter. For example, a search limited to the years 1800-1870 may return a collection spanning the years 1780-1850 or 1810-1905.

Searching From: 1800 To: [blank] = 1800 to present, while searching From: [blank] to 1800 = the earliest we have until 1800.

Limiting by repository:

  1. Use the Repository filter in the results page, or
  2. Navigate to the repository page from the top menu bar, and then use the repository's search box or browsing icon.

Repository record

Other Search Boxes

Search within results

Search within collections:

Search within collection panel

[Warning: Currently, if you enter multiple terms in the Search within Results and the Search Collection boxes, results will contain ANY of the words. These boxes do OR searches instead of AND (like the main search box). This is a known issue and under investigation.]

Additional Information

Punctuation: is stripped during the query, whether you are using quotation marks or not. Therefore, including or not including hyphens in personal names, or dashes in subject headings, does not impact search results.

Diacritics: are supported but not necessary. For example, searching "Jean Francois Bory" will return the Jean-François Bory Papers.

Stemming: Archives at Yale automatically performs basic stemming on searches (e.g. searching for cats will also retrieve cat).

Wildcards: “Wildcard” symbols ? and * help retrieve a greater number of relevant results by searching for variant spellings and forms of the term concurrently.

  • ? will be replaced by a single letter in, or at the end of, a search term (e.g. Searching for wom?n will find both women and woman. Searching archiv? will find both archive and archivy)
  • * will be replaced by any number of letters (e.g. Searching for mission* will return results containing missions, missionary, missionaries, etc. Searching for migrat* will return migrate, migratory, migration, but not migrant.)

Searches are not case-sensitive.

Alternative to boolean operator NOT: precede a term by a hyphen to exclude it from the search (e.g. mission -China ; art -British).

Finding near terms: Archives at Yale does not support the boolean operator NEAR. However, to find terms within a specified number of words of one another, add a tilde (~) and a number after the search terms. (e.g. “maps Asia”~5 will return results where the term maps occurs within 5 words of the term Asia).