Image: Anthony Burns, courtesy of Library of Congress
Biography
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University of Detroit Mercy
Black Abolitionist Archive


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How to find information in the Allen Park Veterans Administration Hospital Archives

Search Speeches and Editorials

You can search for particular words that appear in a speech or editorial record from the "search" page. This can be reached by selecting the Search button. Keyword search will search all available fields, including speaker or author, newspaper title, subjects, keywords, organizations, and description. You may also limit your search to a selected fields by choosing 'people', 'organizations', or 'subjects' from the search drop down box. Go to 'Preferences' on the navigation bar to change your search preferences.

How to search for particular words

From the search page, you make a query in these simple steps:

  1. Specify what items you want to search
  2. Say whether you want to search for all or just some of the words
  3. Type in the words you want to search for
  4. Click the Begin Search button

When you make a query, the titles of twenty matching documents will be shown. There is a button at the end to take you on to the next twenty documents. From there you will find buttons to take you on to the third twenty or back to the first twenty, and so on. Click the title of any document, or the little button beside it, to see it.

A maximum of 100 is imposed on the number of documents returned. You can change this number by clicking the preferences button at the top of the page.

Search terms

Whatever you type into the query box is interpreted as a list of words called "search terms." Each term contains nothing but alphabetic characters and digits. Terms are separated by white space. If any other characters such as punctuation appear, they serve to separate terms just as though they were spaces. And then they are ignored. You can't search for words that include punctuation.

For example, the query

    Agro-forestry in the Pacific Islands: Systems for Sustainability (1993)

will be treated the same as

    Agro forestry in the Pacific Islands Systems for Sustainability 1993

Query type

There are two different kinds of query.

  • Queries for all of the words. These look for documents (or chapters, or titles) that contain all the words you have specified. Documents that satisfy the query are displayed, in alphabetical order.

  • Queries for some of the words. Just list some terms that are likely to appear in the documents you are looking for. Documents are displayed in order of how closely they match the query. When determining the degree of match,

    • the more search terms a document contains, the closer it matches;
    • rare terms are more important than common ones;
    • short documents match better than long ones.

Use as many search terms as you like--a whole sentence, or even a whole paragraph. If you specify only one term, documents will be ordered by its frequency of occurrence.

Scope of queries

In most collections you can choose different indexes to search. For example, there might be author or title indexes. Or there might be chapter or paragraph indexes. Generally, the full matching document is returned regardless of which index you search.

If documents are books, they will be opened at the appropriate place.

Changing your preferences

When you click the preferences button at the top of the page you will be able to change some features of the interface to suit your own requirements.

Search preferences

Two pairs of buttons control the kind of text matching in the searches that you make. The first set (labeled "case differences") controls whether upper and lower case must match. The second ("word endings") controls whether to ignore word endings or not. It is possible to get a large query box, so that you can easily do paragraph-sized searching. It is surprisingly quick to search for large amounts of text.

For example, if the buttons ignore case differences and ignore word endings are selected, the query

    African building

will be treated the same as

    africa builds

because the uppercase letter in "African" will be transformed to lowercase, and the suffixes "n" and "ing" will be removed from "African" and "building" respectively (also, "s" would be removed from "builds").

You can switch to an "advanced" query mode which allows you to combine terms using AND (&), OR (|), and NOT (!). This allows you to specify more precise queries. Finally, you can control the number of hits returned, and the number presented on each screenful.

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