Finding Aids Help
Search By Keyword Across All LC Finding Aids
Enter your search terms in the search box on the Search Finding Aids page. Choose whether to search all words (the default option), any words, or the words in your query as a single phrase.
You may also search by the Library's unique finding aid identifier -- the last component of the finding aid handle (for example, ms009304 in the handle hdl:loc.mss/eadmss.ms009304).
From the Search Results page, select a brief results entry. A full display of the finding aid opens in a new browser window or tab. Click on Show search terms in context in a brief results entry to open the full display of the finding aid at the Search Results tab.
Search By Keyword Within One LC Finding Aid
From a full finding aid display, you can search within that finding aid by entering search terms in the search box labelled Search this Finding Aid. Search results appear in the Search Results tab. Click on a relevance ranked link to open the appropriate finding aid section in a new browser tab or window.
Formatting Keyword Search Terms
Diacritics: Accent marks can be used in keyword searches.
- To find all words -- whether or not they contain diacritics -- do not use diacritics in your search terms. For example, search search Leon to find both Léon and Leon.
- To find only words containing diacritics, include the diacritics in your search term. For example, search Pułaski to find Pułaski but not Pulaski.
- Right and left half-ligatures and half-tildes are converted to spaces. Therefore, to search these terms as keywords, the single word containing these diacritics must instead be treated as a phrase. For example, search the phrase "I U rii" to find I︠U︡riĭ For controlled terms that include half-ligatures and half-tildes, we recommend you use Browse to find names, titles, and subjects containing these diacritics.
Upper and Lower Case Letters: Keyword searches ignore whether you use upper or lower case letters.
Punctuation: Most punctuation (such as periods, commas, and quotation marks) is ignored in keyword searches. Apostrophes and hyphens are converted to spaces.
Special Characters: Characters such as ampersands and dollar signs can be used in keyword searches.
Limiting Keyword Searches
By Specific Finding Aid Sections
By default, the complete finding aid is searched. You have two additional options:
- Select Collection Overview to search information in the narrative part of a finding aid. Collection Overview limits your search to information about Library collections and how they can be used. It includes collection creators and provenance, as well as conditions of access and use, arrangement of the collection, index terms, and other helpful administrative information.
- Select Contents List to search a detailed listing of contents of the collection components. This does not include searching any texts in the collection itself.
By LC Location
All Library finding aids are searched by default. You can also limit your search to finding aids for collections accessible in specific LC Research Centers. Select the Research Center you are interested in from the drop-down menu. Only one option may be selected at a time.
Browse All LC Finding Aids
You can browse all LC finding aids by the names, titles, and subjects associated with collections, as well as by the date range of collection contents. You can also browse finding aids arranged by LC location or Research Center.
Browse Within One LC Finding Aid
From a full finding aid display, select the Index Terms tab to see the Browse lists of index terms associated with a specific collection. These terms include controlled entries for people, organizations, titles, places, subjects, form/genre, and occupations. In some cases, you may also find lists of terms created specificially for that finding aid.
From the lists of controlled entries, you can:
- Find other finding aids with the term you are searching. Click on the appropriate LC Finding Aids Browse link to go to browse section for that letter of the alphabet. Scroll down (or use your browser search) to find your search term, then click on the link to return all finding aids containing your search term.
- Find other Library materials in the LC Online Catalog with the term you are searching. The appropriate Browse search in the LC Online Catalog will open in a new window or tab.
Contents List Navigation
Contents Lists with more than one series support navigation by paging, breadcrumbs, and a Table of Contents.
Paging through the Finding Aid
You can page through longer Contents Lists using the « Previous Page | Next Page » links. These links remain on the page as you scroll down the display.
Navigating with Breadcrumbs
Contents Lists are hierarchical, arranging archival collections into various levels of series and subseries. However you choose to navigate through the Contents List, you can see where you are in the document with the breadcrumb links. Click on any intermediate level to jump to that section of the Contents List.
Navigating with the Table of Contents
Up to five levels of series and subseries in a Contents List are arranged in the Table of Contents. Click on « Navigate Contents List to open or close this navigation aid. When open, the series or subseries you are currently viewing is bolded.
Click on any series or subseries link in the Table of Contents to jump to that section of the Contents List. Long Tables of Contents are scrollable.
When Tables of Contents contain nested levels of series and subseries, use Expand All to open the complete hierarchy and Collapse All to close the hierarchy.
Printing and Downloading
To print or download the entire finding aid, go to the Print/Download tab and select:
- Full Text, PDF format for the PDF version.
- Full Text, XML format for the native XML version. The XML format uses the EAD XML Schema.
Access and Use Restrictions
The warning Access restrictions apply appears on finding aids that have restrictions on access to part or all of the collection. The warning Some or all content stored offsite appears when any part of the collection is held in remote storage.
Click Contact Us to email the appropriate Research Center holding that collection for more information about the restrictions or to submit an advance notice request to use the collection.
To help you create citations, each finding aid full display page contains hidden HTML metatags with Dublin Core and MODS metadata. Following LC standards, this application uses the following Dublin Core metatags: DC.title, DC.creator, DC.publisher, DC.date, DC.identifier, DC.type, DC.language, and DC.subject.
As XML documents, LC finding aids are encoded using the international Encoded Archival Description (EAD) standard, maintained by the Library of Congress in partnership with the Society of American Archivists (external link). Through a Java and XSL workflow, EADs are transformed into the EAD XML schema and merged with descriptive MARCXML metadata derived from EAD elements and associated collection-level bibliographic and holdings records regularly exported from the LC Online Catalog.
The EAD XML documents are wrapped into METS objects, then stored, indexed, and displayed from a native XML data store platform (currently eXist (external link)). Unique METS structMap identifiers are assigned to several levels of finding aid series and subseries, facilitating the logical subdivision of these often large XML documents for retrieval and display.
Keyword searches, browse searches, and display pages are constructed using XQuery (external link). Contents List menus use JQuery Treeview (external link), with displays supplemented by page-level navigation that preserves "you are here" anchors.
Known eXist Problems
Search Within "All words" results contain repeated words: Match highlighting on keyword "all words" search results contains nested indexed elements that can produce repeated words in the contextual display. These repeats also affect counts. For example, searching within a single finding aid for civil rights can return the entry: Civil rightsrightsrightsrights. eXist developers are aware of the problem. Keyword phrase searches are not affected.
Search Within "As a phrase" results does not always display contextual data: "In context" displays for keyword "as a phrase" searches containing more than two words return the finding aid section only. Contextual information is not available to display. The search result count in this situation reflects Lucene's term relevance score, not the number of times the search terms occur in a section. For example, searching within a single finding aid for the phrase civil rights legislation will return the entry: Overview> Scope and Content Note (12). Reducing your query to two words, such as rights legislation, will display search terms in context.