Search Tips Effective Searching

When searching, it’s good to keep a few things in mind:

  1. Try lots of different terms. “Sylvia Beach letters” will produce different results than “Sylvia Beach correspondence,” “Beach,” “Beach, Sylvia” and so on.
  2. The more words you use in your search, the fewer results will come back to you. “Woodrow Wilson” will produce fewer results than “Wilson”, but not all of the Wilsons that are produced may be about Woodrow.
  3. Using a minus sign (-) will exclude a term from results. If you’re interested in Ray Stannard Baker, but you keep getting results for James A. Baker III, a good search might be “Ray Baker -James”.
  4. Consider the time period of your language. Words and definitions of words change overtime and it’s important to consider which terms to search for. Staff don’t change the titles of folders or boxes, but instead mark down exactly what they state. Be thoughtful and creative when crafting your list of search terms to make sure you’re gathering records from all time periods.
Narrowing Search Results

There are two ways of narrowing search results on this site.

  1. More search terms will result in fewer results. Notice that the original search term is already in the box — simply add more terms to get more precise results. If you know that there’s a term that you definitely don’t want to see results for, just put a minus sign ( – ) in front of it. For instance, if you were interested in the history of women at Princeton, but you didn’t want results related to coeducation, simply enter “women Princeton -coeducation”.
  2. Use the filters on the left of the screen to narrow down your results! Are you only interested in items from the University Archives? Make sure that is highlighted from the “Repositories” filter. Would you only like to see items that are digital and available to view remotely? Choose “Online Access”!
Advanced tips

Archival collections are organized by who collected the materials, not what the materials are about. You may be pleasantly surprised by searching outside of the collections that you think an item should be in. Results in the “name,” “genre,” and “subject” facets can be thought of as tags — if an item has been tagged with any of the terms in the list, it will appear in the revised results. But some relevant results may not have been tagged — narrowing this way may result in missing good material!