Tips for Searching in this Collection

Click here if you are new to this database.

Follow these guidelines to improve your searches:

Use the Subject Guide

A good place to begin researching a topic that is new to you is the Subject Guide Search. The Subject Guide lists subject terms that contain the word or words you typed. It offers a good way to find broader subject terms, sub-topics, and related terms. For example, if you are researching civil rights, the Subject Guide will list links for information on the movement as a whole, as well as for specific activists and legislative acts. Or perhaps you are really interested in the related topic of equal protection? You simply click a term from the Subject Guide and the system will show you search results.

Selecting a current events issue from the Basic Search page is another good place to start your research. Select from the list of widely-studied topics. When you get results, you'll also find the Subject Guide in a sidebar to the left of the page.

Search by Subject, Keyword or Entire Document

Basic Search offers three ways to progressively broaden your search:

Be specific

By using more search terms to narrow your search, you can locate documents that fit your information needs better. The following sample results are hypothetical:

Remember: When two or more search terms do not have any operators between them, the system automatically inserts the N4 proximity operator. See more examples of how the system handles different ways to enter a search phrase here.

Use logical operators and wildcards

Most fields allow the use of logical operators (AND, OR, NOT) and wildcards (*, ?, !) to target your search. You may also combine phrases and single search terms in the search box. For example, enter "red state" AND "family values".

Broaden your search by using OR

Unless you tell the search engine otherwise, it finds only those documents containing all of the words that you specify. By inserting OR between your search words, you'll find documents that contain as few as one of your requested words. Using OR will increase the number of documents that are found; use OR if your search isn't finding enough documents. For example, type racism OR prejudice.

Use plural or other word endings

For example, if you are looking for discussions of murder, search for various forms of the word in one of the following ways:

And don't forget to use the Subject Guide Search to help you come up with terms.

Try using synonyms for your original words

For example, enter nervous breakdown or mental breakdown. Again, the Subject Guide Search will be helpful in suggesting terms.

Search a specific index

Use Advanced Search and search for documents indexed by the kind of information you seek. For example, if you are searching for documents about a person, try the Person Name index. This targets your search against specific fields of data. Advanced Search indexes also let you search for information about the documents themselves, such as Document Author or Publisher Name.

Search for a specific type of content

Use the content type limiter found on the Basic Search, Subject Guide Search and Advanced Search pages to narrow your search to one or several kinds of materials. For example, you could search exclusively for statistical data by entering your search term(s) and then selecting the statistics content type.

Check your spelling

If you type predudis instead of prejudice, your search won't find any matches.

Related topics:

  • General Search Tips
  • Toolbox