Search Tutorial

Help for Brooks Free Library Historical Newspaper Collection Searching

Thie site features two different forms of search syntax, Precise Search, and Simplified Search.  Precise Seach features Boolean search syntax, while Simplified Search utilizes a more modern Internet-like search experience.  The differences are outlined in detail below, but in summary, Precise Search is a more traditional syntax and tends to be favored by experienced researchers, while Simplified Search is favored by occasional researchers.

Below are the rules for a successful search using Precise Search syntax.

Precise Search Syntax

The following are valid searches:

To find documents with the exact word, enter only the word into the SEARCH dialogue box: i.e., Traffic, then press SEARCH

To find documents containing an exact phrase, enter the phrase with no symbols: i.e.,

Traffic Circle, then press SEARCH

Precise Search utilizes Boolean Operator syntax for accurate complex searches. Boolean Operators are words, not symbols, and do not require the use of italics, parentheses, or quotation marks. The Boolean operators are and, or, not, and near.

Enter Boolean Operators as follows:

  • document and region
  • document or region
  • document and not region
  • not region

Removing the power of Boolean Operators

Sometimes you just want a word to be a word, not a Boolean operator. If you want to search for a phrase that includes a Boolean Operator (for instance, black and white) you first have to remove the Boolean power of the word and. To do so, simply enclose the Boolean operator in quotation marks.

  • traffic “and” circle will find the phrase “traffic and circle”, while traffic and circle will find each page that includes both the words traffic and the word circle not necessarily adjacent to each other.
  • to be “or” “not” to be, will find the phrase “to be or not to be”

Proximity Search Explained

  • Traffic near circle finds newspaper pages with the word traffic within 10 ( by default) words of the word circle – you don’t use italics for the word near, used here only for clarity.
  • Traffic near(5) circle finds newspaper pages with the word traffic within 5 words of the word circle. Users can substitute any other number up to 100 for the number 5, and get the appropriate result.  By default, the search engine assumes proximity within 10 words.

Simplified Search Syntax

To find documents containing the exact word, enter the word only (for instance, the word traffic) then press Search.  The MicroSearch search engine will return the Results page, a list of all documents containing the word traffic. (All search queries are case insensitive).

To find documents containing two words, enter the words separated by a space. Note: In Simplified Search, spaces between words are interpreted as the word OR.

Entering the phrase Traffic Circle will find every document containing either the word Traffic or the word Circle. (Documents containing both words will score higher in the Search Results page.)

To find documents that contain the exact phrase, enter the desired phrase within quotation marks (for instance,  “traffic circle”).  The Microsearch search engine will return a list of all documents containing the exact phrase traffic circle. Simplified Search Special operators include the plus+ and the minus – signs:

document +region (Finds documents that must contain both words)

document  -region (Finds documents containing the first word but not the second word)

-region (Finds all documents that do not include the word.)

ProximitySearches are not supported in Simplified Search syntax.  To do a Proximity Search, go to Precise Search by checking the Precise Search button on the Advanced Search page.

Below is a summary chart of the search rules of the two different syntaxes