Almost all online historic newspaper collections have one thing in common – they have a basic search capability and an advanced search feature. I tell everyone who will listen – almost always use the advanced feature since it provides so many different ways to hone in on the articles that you seek. The Community History Archive software capabilities add a third type – Keyword Searches.
Basic searches lure you into entering a surname or full name and hoping for the best, and that’s OK. Let’s look at the basic search capability:
Here you can enter a search string in the search bar (a “search string” is a sequence of characters or words that you enter into the search box.) You can enter a Boolean Expression in the Search bar if you wish, as well as simply a string of words. Check out the article on Boolean Expressions if you don’t know what that is or want more detailed information about Booleans.
Don’t get me wrong – these basic searches are not bad. But if you wish to narrow down your search results, for example by date, or publication title, you should try Advanced Search (examples below).
In the Search Portal Keyword Search function, which is available on the Search Results Page, you can enter a search string in the top search bar, or you can enter a name in the second box. You can enter a Boolean Expression in the top bar if you wish as well as simply a string of words. Check out the article on Boolean Expressions if you don’t know what that is or want more detailed information about Booleans.
Keyword Search provides the added capability to enter a date range in years, with a Start Year and End Year for the search.
Advanced Searches have a variety of added ways to narrow your search results. Here is a picture of the Search Portal’s Advanced Search capabilities:
Look at these added features – name entry, Boolean operations, exact phrases, as well as selected city, publication title and date range.
- You can enter a first name and last name as in the Basic Search.
- You can enter an exact word or phrase, which operates exactly as if you put double quotes (“) around the search string.
- You can enter a string of words in the “All these words” box, which operates the same as a Boolean AND. That means every word in your search string must be on the newspaper page.
- You can enter a string of words in the “Any of these words” box, which operates the same as a Boolean OR. This means that any of the words can be on the newspaper page.
- You can enter a string of words in the “None of these words” box, which operates the same as a Boolean NOT. This means that none of the words are on the newspaper page. Let’s use the example where you are seeking articles about a man named “John Dulles” but who is NOT the former Secretary of State “John Foster Dulles”. In this case, you would put the word “Foster” in the “None of these words” box.
The moral of this story is to use the Advanced Search feature whenever you can. This is especially true if your target person has a common name. A simple message for sure, but if heeded will provide you with more successful search results.