|Notes for Researchers
Searching the Guide
Begin with the search box: One way to begin the search process is to type a keyword in the "Search the Guide" box, click "Go," and then add additional search terms to narrow down the list of results.
1. You can use the Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT to combine search terms.
- Sanitary AND Commission will return only results with both words
- Sanitary OR Fair will return results with either word
- Sanitary NOT Sewage will return results that contain the first word but not the second
Note: The operators (AND, OR, NOT) must be entered in all caps.
2. Use quotes to search for specific phrases like "Sanitary Commission" or "Philadelphia Inquirer"
When you are looking for something within a particular guide, use the FIND FUNCTION (Control + F) to open a "find word" window at the bottom of your screen. Type in your word and hit return. Repeat this throughout the entry to find all instances of the word you're looking for. There is no truncation feature, so to find, for example, slave, slaves or slavery, type in "slave" only.
About Using Institutional Collections
- Make contact before you visit. Although this guide is as up-to-date as possible, hours, contact information, and access policies vary widely and change over time. Especially if you rely on special equipment (a laptop computer, digital camera, etc.), call or email before arriving to confirm that an institution can meet your needs. Many places also have specific reading room access policies, such as requiring a photo ID, not allowing certain items into the building (e.g., food), and so on. Be prepared before you go by looking at websites or, better yet, calling.
- Check websites. Institutions are perpetually adding new items to their online catalogues and providing electronic versions of certain materials. Compiling a list of things you wish to see before you arrive, including call numbers and/or locations, will speed your access to the materials and make your experience more fruitful. Find out if your collections are stored off-site and if so, how much lead-time (sometimes days or weeks) the institution needs to make them available.
- Consult with staff. Reference librarians, curators, archivists, cataloguers, and other staff members know their collections the best and are therefore well equipped to provide advice about collection content and access. Ideally, they will also help you develop research strategies and point you to complementary materials at other institutions. They can also tell you about in-house finding aids and ‘hidden collections’ that might be useful.
- Take advantage of other resources, including:
- online catalogues and subscription databases of secondary sources at area universities, government agencies, and public institutions;
- supplemental collections of visual materials and material culture;