Search Help

Search by keyword or browsing. Toggle between the two using the tabs on the left of the screen.

You can browse the newspaper collection by date, county, city, and newspaper name by clicking on the Browse term.

To Sort your search results chronologically

  1. Click on "Preferences" in the left column and then "Result" at top center.
  2. Change the "Sort By" options to Year, Month and Day. Uncheck any of the other boxes.
  3. Click on "Save Changes."

How to narrow your search

Once you have entered your search term, you can narrow your results using the Filter (which is the default) to click on any of the filtered returns or clicking on "Search By" to display additional search fields below the search button.

**Remember: Start out broad and gradually narrow your search. Start with the county and year, then add the month if necessary.

Searching for Names

  • Use quotes around names (example: "John Doe")
  • Men often used their initials, so try that as well (example: for John Joseph Doe try "J J Doe")
  • Women often used their husband's name (example: if Jane Clark is the wife of John Joseph Doe, try "Mrs J J Doe")
  • Birth Announcements are often under the parent's names and do not usually include the child's name (example: if Joeseph John Doe was the son of John Joseph and Jane Clark Doe, try "J J Doe")

Where did the toolbars go?

Making a simple change in "Preferences" will give you the Adobe Reader toolbar at the bottom of the PDF. Click on "Preferences" and then "View", click on the "PDF Display Style" options and choose "Full View." "Save Changes" and you are ready to search.

If the default toolbar no longer appears at the bottom of the screen. Click on the "Show Document" icon on the upper right hand of the screen. This opens the PDF file opened in another window and will give the Adobe toolbar at the bottom of the PDF.

When you roll your mouse over the Adobe Reader toolbar, it will give you options to save the PDF, print to your printer, and increase the size of the image. To highlight your search term on the pages:

If you click the Adobe icon on the far right of the toolbar, the tools will appear at the top of the window.

  1. Either click on the binoculars or use Control +F to bring up the search box in the upper right corner.
  2. Type in your search term. It should be highlighted in blue.

**For multiple occurrences on the same page, keep your cursor in the find box and hit the Enter button on your keyboard.

General Search Tips

  • Searches are not case sensitive, so capitalization is unnecessary
  • Use quotes to search for a specific Phrase or name
  • If you get large result sets, Narrow results using the Filter or Search By options
  • Use the main search box to search for keywords within the Full text of publications
  • Browse for publications by going to Browse
  • Customize your searching, sorting, and viewing options using Preferences

Exact Search

A primary query type used to find exact matches for query terms. The query terms are not stemmed or expanded in any way. Queries using Boolean logic are accepted. The default operator between query terms is AND; thus, a query for term1 term2 is logically equivalent to a query for term1 AND term2.

In the Exact Search type, a search for territorial will match ONLY the word territorial. Thus, a search for territorial legislature would find documents containing those two exact terms. Some of the results may coincidentally also contain stemmed versions of these terms, but those terms would not be considered matched terms, and would not be highlighted as such.

The Exact Search type provides a way to find documents with ONLY the desired terms. For example, to find all documents that contain the exact terms territorial legislature but do not also contain the exact terms territory legislative, use an Exact Search for territorial legislature -territory -legislative. Note: the order of the query terms does not matter in these examples.

Concepts Search

A primary query type that accepts plain English queries without Boolean Operators. Semantic expansion is automatically performed on all query words. For example, a search for the term territory could find documents containing the term district. Likewise, a search for the term cows could find documents containing the term cattle. Documents containing all of the original terms or the expanded terms will be returned in the results.

The Concept Search type does not recognize Boolean Operators (such as + - AND or OR). For example, a Concept Search for territory AND legislature could return results containing all of these words.

  • territory (or any expanded version of this term, such as district)
  • AND
  • legislature

In this case, the word AND is considered a search term, not a boolean operator.

Pattern Search

A primary query type that processes plain English queries, but tolerates spelling differences in either the body of the text or the queries. Pattern expansion is automatically performed on all query words to the level specified in the "Pattern Search, Similarity Setting" preference.

This type of search is helpful in retrieving terms or names with alternative spellings or common misspellings. For example, a pattern search for the term "secretery" will also search for alternative spellings, such as "secretary" or "secretaries".

Keyword (Boolean) Search (AND, OR, NOT)

Boolean operators allow you to construct queries using complex logic. Boolean operators only function in the Keyword Search and Exact Search types and must be written in UPPERCASE. When using Boolean operators in Keyword Search type, the terms are stemmed and expanded. For example, the query term territorial could be stemmed to the base term of territor and expanded to territory, territories, and territorial.

When using Boolean operators in Exact Search type, the terms are "as shown" in. For example, the query term territorial would consider only territorial a match, although the expanded terms may exist in result.

Wildcard Search

Wildcard characters allow you to search for multiple terms at once or to find words with unknown or incorrect spelling. Use wildcard characters (*, ?, [search expression], ^, -, <, >, ~) to substitute for the part of the word, name, or number that varies among the terms in the index.

Wildcard characters are best used with Exact Search type. Although they can be used with Concept Search or Keyword Search types, these searches may yield unexpected results due to the stemming and semantic expansion of the terms. Wildcard characters are ignored in the Pattern Search type.

Wildcards can be used in full text search or field entries, in multiple words, and even multiple times in one word. For the most relevant results, if you are looking for "unknown" information within a field, it is best to perform the wildcard search within that field. See examples:

Grouped Term Search

A Grouped Term Search improves the search accuracy. It is a query (Pattern or Concept) in which terms related to a common concept are grouped together with parentheses in order. The words within parentheses are expanded, matched, and ranked for relevance as a group, instead of as individual words.

Advanced Search Options

Customize your search by going to Advanced Search Options and checking on the box next to the fields you wish to search by. Sort your results list by the options you like, such as sorting by relevancy rank, number of hits, title, or publication date, etc Change the display of your results list to row, column, or thumbnail format under the Result List Display Format option. Save Changes to enable your new options.

Fielded Search

A query performed against the document metadata, it limits responses by allowing you to enter specific metadata fields (such as a full or partial title, collection, author, etc.). A metadata field search can be done against metadata only (one or more fields at a time) or in conjunction with a full-text search.

Filter Search

After you have performed a search, you can narrow your results using the Filter (which is the default) to click on any of the filtered returns.

Notes about Historical Newspapers

The majority of newspapers in this collection span the years 1849 through 1922. That span also represents changes in journalistic practice, society, and language that must be considered when searching. Some differences between the journalistic practices in early newspapers and those of modern newspapers include:

  • Early newspapers included many brief, 2-3 sentence articles; therefore, your search may retrieve many articles with little substantial content.
  • Early newspapers often mixed jokes and editorial content with articles.
  • Earlier newspapers seldom include the full length articles typical of modern newspapers; therefore, brief articles may be the only type you find on your topic.
  • Be prepared to find a mix of editorial commentary and factual news in the same article.
  • Be aware of various differences in language between the 19th century and today. Terms used in the past do not always have the same meaning currently; in some cases, usage has become archaic or obsolete. For example: transient, consumption, hornswoggle, Yanks.
  • These newspapers reflect the attitudes, beliefs, and perspectives of the times, and may stereotype individuals and groups or use terms that are now considered derogatory and offensive. For example: mammy, colored, Huns, savages.
  • Abbreviations were sometimes used, particularly for proper names (Jno, Thos, Chas).
  • Watch the Simple Searching video (2:57 seconds).
  • For help with PDF viewers, check out the this page.