Welcome to the Help page! Here, you'll find information on searching and additional features.


You can search all the information in this site, including text inside documents, by entering words or phrases into the main search box. There's usually no need to enter any special operators or commands, or worry about upper or lower case letters, as the search engine will try to find the most relevant items with the words you use.

Spelling Corrections and "Did you mean" Search Suggestions

The search engine will automatically search variations on common words for you, but may also suggest alternate words or corrections to typos and spelling errors that are known to bring back results, especially if your search found none. You can select any option presented to run that search.

Revising Your Search

If you run a search and get a lot of results, or not ones you hoped for, you can revise your search by editing, removing or adding to your search words, in the box above your search results, without having to start a new search from the home page.

Narrowing Your Search

You can also narrow your search using "facets" of those results, such as names, places, subjects, dates, types of materials and more. The facets which are shown depend on your search results.

Select a facet heading to expand it, then select as many entries as you like before choosing the Apply button to refine your search to only results with those entries.

Select the More button to show the next set of entries, or the Explore button to open a more detailed view. In this detailed view you may sort entries alphabetically, or by the number of items which have each term in them. The count of these items is also shown. You may jump to terms beginning with a specific letter of the alphabet, as well as filter the list further using the Search box. Select terms and choose Apply to refine your search with those terms.

To remove one of your choices, select the X next to it as it appears above your search results.

Sorting Search Results

Search results are almost always sorted first by relevance, so that the items that best match your search appear first. Depending on the types of items available in this site, you may be able to sort your results by the item's title or a date associated with it.

Changing the View of Search Results

Search results are initially shown in a list view, with brief information about each result. You may change the view to a gallery-style view, focussing on images, or a table-style view, with very brief information.

Searching for People by Name

If you are searching for specific people by their names, the proximity operator is a great tool. For example:

"Allan Smith"~3

will find:

  • Allan Smith
  • Smith, Allan
  • Allan G. Smith
  • Smith, Allan G.

When a name (or a place name) may be spelled in different ways, the wildcard operators can help find those variations, as can the Boolean OR operator. For example:




allan OR allan OR allen

will find:

  • Alan
  • Allan
  • Allen

Searching for Topics

As with searching for people by name, searching for topics may benefit from the use of phrase searches and/or proximity operator as well. For example:


bake sale

doesn't find quite the right results, try:

"bake sale"


"bake sale"~2

Searching for Specific Issues by Date

To find an issue in a specific year or range of years, you can simply use the Year slider on the search page to specify one or a range of years. In search results, you can also narrow by decade or years.

Another option is to enter all or part of an issue date in the format YYYY-MM-DD. For example:


finds all issues from 1998.


finds all issues from April 1998.


finds only the issues from April 1st, 1998.

You can use this method for a range of issues too. For example:

issue:[1998-04 TO 1998-09]

finds all issues from April 1998 to September 1998.

Working with Search Results

Viewing Images, Documents and Other Media

For any records which have images, photographs, documents, audio-video recordings or links to other online resources, just click the item or link to view it.

For links to documents, the document will open in a built-in viewer, with your search words or phrase highlighted, and with tools to navigate within the document or download it.

Some records, such as for maps, architectural drawings and other very large items, may offer the ability to zoom in to see details close up, then zoom out again to see the whole item.

Saving Items

You can save items that you're interested in to a temporary list by clicking on the "Select" or "Add to List" button. If you would like to remove an item from the list, click on the "Remove" button. Multiple items can be added to the list, across different searches.

To view your list, select the "Selections" or "List" link or button in the main site menu.

From the list, you may print the results, save them to a PDF, or email that PDF to yourself or another email address.

You may also be able to submit a request to us about the items, such as a request to borrow them or for more information about them.

Every record has a unique URL that takes you directly to that record. Choose the Permalink button to open the view of this record. You may copy the URL to this record, share it, bookmark it, save it, etc. For as long as this record and this site exist, this URL will take you to this record.

Sharing Items

If a Share button appears for items in search results, you may choose one of the available social media sites to post the item to.

Viewing Related Records

When viewing individual records, some terms in the record may appear as links, especially for names, places and topics. Choose any of these links to find all records with that term.

A "More Link This" or "Similar" button may appear with each record. Choose this to find other records which the search engine determines have something in common with this record.

Additional Search Operators

The additional search options listed here can be used as described, on their own, or in combination with each other.

Combining Search Terms with Boolean Operators

You can combine search terms with the AND, OR, and NOT Boolean operators (in capitals).

Multiple search terms are automatically assumed to be combined with AND, but you can combine the search terms explicitly by typing out AND between the terms. Use AND for searching when you want results that match both (or more) search terms.

e.g., to search for documents that contain both forest and rock, in the search bar, type:

forest AND rock

To look for records that match any one of your search terms, use OR.

e.g., to search for documents that contain either forest or rock, in the search bar, type:

forest OR rock

Use NOT if you would like to include one search term but exclude another.

e.g., to search for documents that contain forest but do not contain rock, in the search bar, type:

forest NOT rock

Prepositions such as a, an, the and other "small" words, often referred to as "stopwords" are generally ignored by the search engine. There's no need to specifically exclude them with NOT.

Grouping Terms

You can use parentheses to group terms and phrases. This can be very useful if you want to control the Boolean logic for a query.

e.g., to search for documents that contain both forest and rock, but not water, in the search bar, type:

(forest AND rock) NOT water

Phrase Searches

To search for an exact phrase, enclose the phrase in quotation marks in the search bar.

e.g., to search for documents that contain the exact words rock in a forest, type:

"rock in a forest"

Wildcard Searches

Wildcard searches can be used when you do not know the exact term you are searching for, or if you wish to look at variations of your search term.

e.g., to find results that match text or test, you can use the ? symbol and search for:


The ? symbol is used in place of a single character. To search for multiple unknown characters, use the * symbol.

e.g., to find results that match test, tests, tester, testing, or any other variation that begins with test, search for:


The * symbol can be used in the middle of a term.

e.g., to find test, tempest, tenet, etc. (i.e., any words that begin with "te-" and end in "-t"), search for:


You can also use the ? and * symbols at the start of a term.

e.g., to search for test, harvest, forest, etc. (i.e., any words that end in "-est"), search for:


Proximity Searches

To search for documents that have two terms within a certain number of words of each other, use the ~ symbol with a number.

e.g., to search for the terms forest and rock within 10 words of each other, search for:

"forest rock"~10

where the desired terms are in quotation marks, followed immediately by the ~ symbol and a number.

This is especially useful for name searches, where a name may include first name, last name, middle initial or title, in any order, and a search result may also include other similar first or last names. If the name of the person you are searching for was 'Jane Doe' try a search for:

"Jane Doe"~3

to find variations such as:

  • Jane Doe
  • Doe, Jane
  • Jane M. Doe
  • Doe, Jane Margaret
  • Ms. Jane Margaret Doe

but exclude names such as:

  • John Doe
  • Margaret Smith
  • Jane M. Doe

that are also in the document and which would be found by a simpler search.

Fuzzy Searches

The ~ symbol can also be used for approximate searches, but only when a single word is being searched.

e.g., to search for terms that are similar in spelling to cat, search for:


This will bring back results that match terms like bat, rat, mat and hat, in addition to cat.

Range Searches

To perform a range search, use the [ ] symbols and the word TO (in all capitals).

e.g., if you're searching for names that fall alphabetically between Jones and Smith, search for:

[Jones TO Smith]

You can also search a range of numbers using the same method.

e.g., if you're searching for documents from between 2006 to 2008, inclusive, search for:

[2006 TO 2008]

Boosting a Term

To give one search term more importance over another, you can use the ^ symbol followed by a number.

e.g., if you want to search for documents with both forest and rock, but forest is the more important search term, search for:

rock forest^5

which will give the term forest 5 times the value of the term rock.