Name/Date/Document Type Search Instructions

If you have not yet read the full search instructions, please take the time. Beyond that introduction, though, the Name/Date/Document type search functions have a few foibles that are helpful to know when looking for documents.

Search Page Finding Names  To search for a name, use the "Name Search" box in the left frame of the Search page and then select from the "Names Found." The number in square brackets after each name is the number of associated documents. To find an individual the first time, enter the last name as completely as possible but do not enter the first name, as the database may have only initials or possibly only a title ("Mr", "Mrs", "Dr", etc.). That is, "Anthon" will retrieve all the names containing "Anthony" (first or last name), but "Anthony, Frank" will not retrieve "Anthony, F A". Similarly, to find a company or institution, enter most or all of a principal word in the name—"mechanic" will find "American Institute Mechanical Engineers," "American Society of Mechanical Engineers," and "Mechanical News," among others. Once you have found and selected a name (and, if desired, other names, dates, and/or document types), click the "Find Documents" button.

 Multiple Names  If you select more than one name, only documents associated with all names will be found.

 Position of Names  There are spaces for four names. If you select a new name before deleting an old one, the new name will not be in the first space. It doesn't matter—the search will work fine no matter where the names are.

 Standardized Formats for Names

Government agencies appear in the following format: [Country or U.S. State]. [Agency].[Official]. Examples: U.S. Agriculture Dept. Secretary; Great Britain. Board of Trade

Exhibitions appear in the following format: Exhibition.[City] [Name (Year)]. Examples: Exhibition. Philadelphia Centennial (1876); Exhibition. New Orleans Cotton (1884)

Newspapers appear without the words "Morning," "Evening," "Daily," and "Weekly."


-- Periods are not used for initials except when they appear within parentheses. Examples: Abbott, A L; Goodrich (B.F.) Co; 

-- Ampersands are used in place of "and." Examples: Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Co; Smith (F.H.) & Son

Abbreviations. The following abbreviations (without punctuation) are used by themselves and in combination at the end of a name: Assn, Bros, Co, Inc, Ltd Examples: American Automobile Assn; Baldwin Bros & Co; Blum Bros Inc; Edison (Thomas A.) Inc; Edison Ore Milling Co Ltd

 Names with Diacritical Marks  When searching for a name like "Méliès, Paul G" or one that contains a word like "Française," enter the text in plain roman letters without any accents or other marks: "Melies, Paul G"; "Francaise."

 Limits  If a search returns more than 500 records you will be prompted to use a name, date(s), or document type(s) to narrow the results. Document lists for those few folders with more than 500 items are broken into separate pages.

 Dates  There are documents dated only to a month or even just a year. Some have partial dates; others are records such as accounts, which can span months or years. These documents' dates are entered in the database with zeroes in the day or month places (for example, 2/00/77 for February 1877, or 00/00/77 for 1877). However, dates entered in the "Start Date" and "End Date" fields of the search page must be legitimate dates—even 29 February must fall in a leap year. Zeroes are not accepted. The only way to retrieve incompletely dated documents is to use a date range with a start date in the previous month (for example, a range of 1/31/77–2/5/77 will retrieve documents dated 2/00/77; or 12/31/76–1/30/77 will retrieve 00/00/77).

 Document Types  The edition comprises over 50 types of documents, with thousands of some and only a few of others. There is a list of the types showing how many of each the collection holds.

 Sort Order  When results are sorted by Document Type, noncorrespondence comes first, sorted alphabetically by type—there might be Articles, Checks, Clippings, and Memoranda, for example—and chronologically within each group. Then correspondence is sorted by correspondent, with "From" preceding "To" for each name. Last are Name Mentions, those documents of any type in which the name being searched is only mentioned. When no name is specified for the search and only dates or document types are used, all correspondence is listed together after other types. If more than one name is specified, the results cannot be sorted by Document Type. When results are sorted by Chronology, documents of the same date are listed in the arbitrary order of the Document ID

 Browsable Volumes and Folders  Certain volumes and folders—Technical Notes and Drawings, Scrapbooks, Litigation Records, and Minute Books—are often more useful when the documents they comprise can be viewed as a single unit rather than as individual items. For example, scrapbooks frequently contain many consecutive pages of related clippings; litigation records and minute books often have pages of unindexed material between indexed items; and a 200-page technical notebook might have a dozen dated entries (or none), with the dates appearing at the beginning, middle, or end of a run of related pages. The document index for that notebook, which originally served to locate items on microfilm, arbitrarily indicates the first appearance of a date—or each appearance that is preceded by a different date—and all pages until the next different date are included under that dated entry. There is, however, no way of knowing whether the pages preceding or following a date are intellectually linked without examining them.

Any of these collections can be easily scanned on microfilm. In order to make them just as intelligible in the digital edition, when you retrieve an indexed document in one of these groups you will have the ability to move back and forth through the entire notebook, minute book, litigation record, or scrapbook. If, for example, a notebook has 100 images and a three-page entry begins on image 45, the text at the top of the document information will say "Image 45 of 100" rather than "Image 1 of 3." Clicking the "Prev Image" icon will call up the 44th image of the notebook; entering "60" in the "Go To Image" box will take you to the 60th image. (Note, however, that—except for the image number—the document information at the top of the screen will not change as you browse through the volume.)

 Clippings  If a clipping is an interview, letter to the editor, article, or other distinct document type, it is indexed as that type. Otherwise it is simply a "Clipping." When available, the source of the clipping (the name of the journal or newspaper), the author, and the clipping title are displayed in search results or folder listings. Only certain sources and authors are searchable; if the author or source is in the database, clippings will show up under a search for that name. Clippings can be also searched for by date (although about 10% of the clippings do not have dates). All collections of clippings are browsable (see Browsable Volumes and Folders above), and if you find an interesting clipping in a search result it will often be worth your while to look through the scrapbook or folder it comes from.

 Why There Is No Subject Search  Although documents have subject codes that show up in document descriptions, those codes were originally created for internal use by the project's scholars. As a result, large blocks of documents—such as the Company Records Series for a given phonograph company—might not have been coded for the principal subject, as they all concern that subject. Also, as is true of names, the expense of computing power and memory in 1980 dictated a limited indexing of subjects. Subject searching is best done through the Series Notes, where documents are grouped by subject, and through the editorial text.