Search and Request help page

We provide two ways to search through our collections: a basic search option, which works much the same as a google search might, and one more advanced option using boolean logic to make very specific searches. Here we'll describe both of these methods, and give some general search tips specific to our system.

Basic Searches

This is the simplest search type, meant to be used when you only need to find a single word or phrase. Punctuation is always ignored and multiple-word searches will be searched for exactly.

For example, "Henry Ford automobiles" will find "I like Henry Ford automobiles", but will not find "Henry Ford built automobiles." To do a search that will find the latter case, use the advanced ("boolean") search options.

All searches can be targeted at specific subsets of our data by clicking the pull-down in the "Search in:" section and selecting a set of data to search through. The options are as follows:

  • Entire Finding Aid: the full text of each finding aid

  • Names: the names of all people appearing in our finding aids

  • Places: all place names (geographic locations)

  • Subjects: all subject terms

  • Call Number: search for specific call-numbers

  • Collection Title: search through the titles of each collection described by the finding aids

  • Repository: search through all holding institutions

Advanced ("Boolean") Searches

Boolean searches let you look for combinations of up to three terms or phrases using logical connector terms (AND, OR, and NOT). Here is how it's used:

  1. Use the pulldown "Search in" menu to select a category of text to search through (see above).

  2. Enter a term or phrase in the first text box. Each individual box works just like a basic search -- punctuation is ignored, and if you enter a phrase it will search for that phrase exactly.

  3. Enter a term or phrase in the next box, and choose how you want it to be related to the previous term by using the pull-down menu to the right of the first term. We'll use an example of a search for "civil" in the first box and "war" in the second to show the difference between each possible boolean operator:

    • and: finds documents that contain the single word "civil" and the single word "war", no matter how far apart they are from one another

    • or: finds documents that contain only the word "civil" or only the word "war", but not both of them at the same time

    • not: finds documents that contain the word "civil" and do not contain the word "war"

Search Tips

Some helpful tips to keep in mind when you are searching through UM Finding Aids

  • Placing an asterisk (*) at the end of a partial word lets you search for all words that begin with the partial word.
    For example: a search for work* will match on "work", "worker", "works", "working", etc.
  • Neither punctuation nor capitalization matter
  • If you are searching more than one collection simultaneously, the items in the "Search in" menu can change depending on what collections you have selected. A general rule of thumb is: the more collections you select, the fewer region options will be available to search in.

Interpreting Results

Once you make a search you should see something like the following:

Search results example

These results show each matching finding-aid in the Bentley's collections. In addition to some brief summary information, there are three viewing options for every item:

  1. search terms in context: loads detailed information about the results for that item, showing the context for each match of the search query
  2. standard view: displays the finding aid in "outline" form, with a list of contents in the left margin
  3. full text: loads the entire text of the finding aid for printing purposes

The search terms in context view

Sorting Results

Sorting is available for most results lists, the only caveat being that sorting cannot be performed if too many results were found in the search. If you see this message, try using the "revise this search" link to add more terms to the search in hopes of retrieving a smaller result.

Requesting Material

  • From the Contents List of a finding aid, select one or more checkboxes. Click Request at the top of the contents list.
    EAD Request
  • Finalize your request information and click Submit Request.
    Finalize Request
  • If you're prompted to authenticate, login using your research account details. See here for instructions on creating an account.
  • Once you have made a request, you can monitor its status through your research account