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Skip Navigation LinksSimcoe County > Archives > How to Search

How to Search

This FAQ will help you search the Simcoe County Archives database.
Clickable screenshots of the database provide examples.
Please click on a topic:



Introduction to Search and Form ResultsIntroduction to Search and Form Results<p> <img class="ms-rtePosition-2" src="/Archives/PublishingImages/Pages/search-introduction/search-introduction-1.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:150px;" />​In this screenshot you can see the database search form. There are 5 searchable fields, KEYWORD, NAMES/ORGANIZATION, LOCATION, SUBJECT, and FORMAT. These are discussed in more detail below.<br><br>To the left of each field there is a drop-down menu showing the terms AND, OR, and NOT. Using this dropdown menu allows you to refine your searches. For example, if you wanted to retrieve photographs of town halls in Simcoe County, but not textual records, typing 'town hall' in the keyword field, selecting NOT on the format drop down menu, and entering "textual" in the format field will retrieve all records referring to 'town hall' that are not textual records. The OR option will retrieve records relating to one OR the other search term, but not both. Searches are evaluated top to bottom, or from the keyword field to the format field.<br><br>When entering your search terms, the case does not matter. Punctuation is ignored, with the exception of the Boolean operator symbols &, /, and !. If you would like to include these symbols as part of your search, enclose them in quotation marks. For example, "Johnson & Johnson".<br><br>Search results are displayed in a short description, providing the Title, Date, and Format of the record. Clicking on the title in a short description will open the long description, which includes more details about the record. Your search terms will be appear in bolded text in record descriptions. If you are interested in getting copies of a record (see the <a href="/Archives/Pages/copying.aspx" target="_blank">Policy on Copying</a>) or coming to the Archives to view your search results, be sure to write down the accession number, title, date, and format from the long description so the record can be easily retrieved.</p> <table class="ms-rteTable-default" cellspacing="0" style="width:100%;"><tbody><tr><td class="ms-rteTable-default" style="width:50%;text-align:center;">​<img src="/Archives/PublishingImages/Pages/search-introduction/search-introduction-2.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:150px;height:114px;" /></td><td class="ms-rteTable-default" style="width:50%;text-align:center;"><p>​<img src="/Archives/PublishingImages/Pages/search-introduction/search-introduction-3.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:150px;height:114px;" /></p></td></tr></tbody></table><p> <br> <br> </p>
Boolean Operators: Refining Your SearchBoolean Operators: Refining Your Search<p>Boolean operators are terms used to combine logical expressions into longer, more complex expressions. In database searches, they usually refer to the conjunctions AND, OR, and NOT, which are used to narrow and refine searches. The options in the drop down menus beside each search field are boolean operators.<br><br>If you wish to further refine your search, you may include multiple terms in each search field by joining them with boolean operators. Inmagic uses characters to represent common boolean operators. Below is a table showing the Inmagic equivalents.</p><p> <br>  </p> <table class="ms-rteTable-default" cellspacing="0" style="width:100%;text-align:center;"><tbody><tr><td class="ms-rteTable-default" style="width:50%;">​&</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default" style="width:50%;">​AND</td></tr><tr><td class="ms-rteTable-default">​/</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">​OR</td></tr><tr><td class="ms-rteTable-default">​!</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">​NOT</td></tr></tbody></table><p>When joining search terms with a boolean operator, be sure to put spaces around it. For example, 'Kidd & genealogy' not 'Kidd&genealogy.'<br><br>Searches composed of words joined by these operators are evaluated left to right. For example, the search red & white / blue will find records that include red and white or items that contain blue. You can use parentheses to control the order of evaluation. For example, a search for red & (white / blue) will find records that include red and white or red and blue. <br><br>You may also use the proximity operators w# or p# to find words close to one another. For example, a search for John w3 Simcoe will return all records in which John appears within 3 words of Simcoe. The search County p5 Simcoe will return all records in which the word County precedes the word Simcoe by 5 words or fewer. Note that proximity operators only work with single words, not phrases.<br><br>Finally, you can use *, the truncation operator. This allows you to generalize your search. For example, a search for admin* will return any word beginning with admin-, including administrate, administrator, administration, etc.</p>
Browse Buttons: Seeing your Search OptionsBrowse Buttons: Seeing your Search Options<p><img class="ms-rtePosition-2" src="/Archives/PublishingImages/Pages/search-browse-buttons/search-browse-buttons-1.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:200px;height:156px;" />​Beside the search fields to the right are browse buttons. These buttons allow users to view their search options and to insert them into their database query. This screenshot shows the browse dialogue for the subject search field.<br><br>The browser dialogue displays all available search terms in alphabetical order. There is a search box at the top to check to see if your search terms are in the database. At the bottom-left, there is a drop down menu. This menu allows you to choose a subset of search terms to display. In this case, you can choose primary and secondary access points, names as subjects, and subject headings. When you have identified a search term you wish to add to your query, click the add button. You can add as many search terms as you like. When you are finished, click the close button, and your selected search terms will appear in the search fields.</p>
Search Fields Explained : Keyword, Name/Organization, Location, Subject, and FormatSearch Fields Explained : Keyword, Name/Organization, Location, Subject, and Format<p>As mentioned, there are 5 search fields: Keyword, Name/Organization, Location, Subject, and Format. Generally, the most useful field for general searches will be the Keyword, but the others will prove useful when you wish to refine your searches. What follows is a list of the information searched by each field.<br></p><p> <strong>Keyword</strong></p><p>The keyword search field indexes a wide variety of information about the record, including title, statement of responsibility (i.e. author or photographer), dates, distribution and publication information, physical description, scope and contents (ie: a detailed description of the record), an administrative history/biographical sketch of a person or organization, geographic location, and subject headings. In most cases, this field will be the most useful.</p><p> <strong>Name/Organization</strong></p><p>The Name/Organization field searches only fields that include proper names and organizational names. Tips:<br></p><ul><li><p>Search names of people in the format "Simcoe, John Graves" rather than "John Graves Simcoe."</p></li><li><p>Remember that transcriptions from old hand-writing or aged documents may not be accurate and spellings of names varied. Try alternate spellings to broaden your search.</p></li></ul><p> <strong>Location</strong></p><p>The Location field searches for cities, towns, municipalities, or other geographical names. It searches the Geographic Location and Distribution & Publication information fields of our database. Tip:<br><br></p><ul><li><p>When searching for a location such as Barrie, Ontario, search for 'Barrie' not 'Barrie, Ontario.' This is because archival description standards dictate that larger geographical locations be abbreviated.</p></li></ul><p> <strong>Subject</strong></p><p>The Subject field searches subject headings and names as subjects. Tip:<br></p><ul><li><p>Enter here subject headings or names as subjects that you have taken from the long descriptions of other records in this field to find related material.</p></li></ul><p> <strong>Format</strong></p><p>The Format field allows you to specify what type of record you wish to find. Archival description standards dictate general material designations that can be used. The best way to use this field is to click the browse button and choose the most appropriate designation. Designations include:<br></p><ul><li> architectural drawing </li><li> cartographic material </li><li> graphic material - includes photographs, negatives, slides, paintings, etc. </li><li> moving images - includes films and movies </li><li> multiple media - refers to collections comprised of more than 3 different formats </li><li> object - anything that does not fit any other designation </li><li> philatelic record - anything related to stamps, postal marks, and postage </li><li> sound recording </li><li> technical drawing </li><li> textual record </li> </ul>
Searching by DateSearching by Date<p>​Due to constraints caused by archival description standards, it is not possible to search by date range. Should you wish to search by date, enter years in four-digit format (eg. 1875) in the Keyword search field. Be sure to append the date with the appropriate boolean operator if you will be including other terms in your Keyword search.<br></p>
Troubleshooting - I got the message "Unable to recognize as a correctly formed query."Troubleshooting - I got the message "Unable to recognize as a correctly formed query."<p>If you get this message, it means the search software can't understand your search criteria. This might be due to typographical errors, mismatched or missing quotes or parentheses, or extra Boolean operators (for example, car / auto / instead of car / auto).<br><br>If you are unable to determine what caused the error, try a simpler search (for example, a single word in a box) to see if it works. You may also use the browse boxes to construct a query instead of typing your search criteria. If even simpler searches do not work, please <a href="http://goo.gl/iy0kY2" target="_blank">contact us</a>.<br></p>
Troubleshooting - I found too many records.Troubleshooting - I found too many records.<p>​This usually means your search is too general. Doing a more specific search will help reduce the amount of records you retrieve. Below are some ways to refine your search.<br></p><ul><li><p>If you used an asterisk, omit it and try an exact search instead. For example, search forcomputer technology rather than comp*.</p></li><li><p>Try using the Boolean operators &, /, and !, or the AND, OR, NOT drop down menus to construct more precise queries. For example, to find records relating to Simcoe, but not John Graves Simcoe, search for Simcoe ! John.</p></li></ul>
Troubleshooting - I did not find any records.Troubleshooting - I did not find any records.<p>​This may be for one of several reasons. What follows are some suggestions to tweak your search. If this doesn't work, then it is likely we have no related records in the database. We may have what you are looking for at the Archives, so please <a href="http://goo.gl/iy0kY2" target="_blank">contact us</a>.<br></p><ul><li><p>Examine the contents of the search screen to ensure that there are no criteria left over from previous searches.</p></li><li><p>If you are unsure of the correct spelling of your search term, use an asterisk after the first few characters (eg. colo*) or separate different spelling with the Boolean operator OR symbol (eg.colour / color).</p></li><li><p>If you performed a complex search, try simplifying it. Use the browse option to see available search terms and paste them into your search.</p></li><li><p>If you are trying to find records that contain multiple words anywhere in the record, separate the words with Boolean symbols &, /, and !. Otherwise, you are doing a phrase search, which finds these words in that order.</p></li><li><p>If your search includes Boolean symbols, ensure that you use the appropriate symbols, not the words AND, OR, or NOT, and put spaces around them (eg. County & Simcoe notCounty&Simcoe).</p></li></ul>