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How to find information in the United States Government Documents collection

There are 6 ways to find information in this collection:


 

How to browse the United States Government Documents collection

Click on the TITLES, AGENCY, SIGNATOR or DESTINATION tabs to see alphabetical listings of the documents' respective titles, agency of origin, signators, or destination. All the documents in the collection are retrievable via the the TITLES browse lists. However, because some of the documents do not include an identifiable agency of origin, signator, or destination, not all of the documents will be retrievable from the AGENCY, SIGNATOR, or DESTINATION browse lists.

Click on the DATES tab to browse a chronological listing of all the documents arranged by the year and month of its creation. All of the documents in the collection are retrievable from the DATES browse list.

All of the entries in the TITLES and the DATES browse lists are preceded by a yellow "bullet" icon. Clinking on the icon (or the document title next to it) retrieves that specific document. Duplicate title entries indicate either that different versions of the same document are available or that different individual documents have been given the same title.

All of the entries in the AGENCY, SIGNATOR, or DESTINATION browse lists are preceded either by a gray "plus sign" icon. Clicking on the "plus sign" icon (or the browse list term next to it) in the AGENCY, SIGNATOR, or DESTINATION browse lists displays an expanded list of all the documents connected to a particular agency of origin, signator, or destination. Click on the yellow "bullet" icon (or the document title next to it) to retrieve a specific document. To return to the complete browse lists, simply click on the "plus sign."

plus signView all documents for this entry / Return to the browse list
bulletOpen this document (PDF format)



 

How to search the United States Government Documents collection

The documents in the collection were scanned as simple image files and are thus not full-text searchable. However, the descriptive metadata accompanying each document is fully searchable.

From the search page, you make a query in these simple steps:

  1. Specify what items you want to search
  2. Choose full-text, title, or witness from the drop-down box
  3. Say whether you want to search for all or just some of the words
  4. Type in the words you want to search for
  5. Click the Begin Search button

When you make a query, the first 20 matching documents will be shown.  There is an arrow at the bottom of the documents list that links to the next 20 documents.  From there you will find arrows to take you on to the third 20 or back to the first 20, and so on.  Click the title of any document, or the yellow bullet icon beside it, to see the PDF of the document.

A maximum of 200 documents is returned by default.  You can change this number by clicking the PREFERENCES button at the top of the page.


Search terms

Whatever you type into the query box is interpreted as a list of words or phrases called "search terms."  A term is a single word containing only letters and digits, or a phrase consisting of a sequence of words enclosed in double quotes ("...").  Terms are separated by white space.  If any other characters such as punctuation appear, they serve to separate terms just as though they were spaces.  And then they are ignored.  You can't search for words that include punctuation.

For example, the query

will be treated the same as

Truncated searching and weighted searching is also available.


Query type

There are two different kinds of queries.

Use as many search terms as you like--a whole sentence, or even a whole paragraph. If you specify only one term, documents will be ordered by its frequency of occurrence in the document's metadata.


Advanced searching

If you have selected advanced query mode (in preferences) you have slightly different search options. Advanced searches use boolean operators. A boolean search allows you to combine terms using & (for "and"), | (for "or"), and ! (for "not"), using parentheses for grouping if desired. The default operator is | (for "or").

For example, Arusha & negotiations will retrieve documents whose metadata contain both Arusha AND negotiations, whereas Arusha | negotiations will retrieve documents whose metadata contain either Arusha OR negotiations. Arusha !negotiations will retrieve documents whose metadata contains Arusha AND NOT negotiations.

The results can be displayed in ranked order, as described for the some search in Query type, or in "natural" (or "build") order. This is the order that documents were processed during the creation of the collection.

Further operators include NEARx and WITHINx. NEARx is used to specify the maximum distance apart (x words) two query terms must be for a document to match. WITHINx specifies that the second term must occur within x words after the first term. This is similar to NEAR but the order is important. The default distance is 20.

NOTE: These operators are all ignored if you are searching in simple query mode.


Fielded searching

Fielded searching provides the opportunity to combine searches across fields. For example, one can search for "CIA" in Agency AND "Africa" in Title. In simple query mode, each line of the form behaves like a normal single line search. The individual lines of the form are combined using AND (for an "all" search) or OR (for a "some" search). Terms inside the field are also combined the same way. In advanced mode, you can specify different combinations of AND/OR/NOT between the fields using the drop-down lists, and inside a field you can use boolean operators.

 

Changing your preferences

When you click the PREFERENCES link at the top of the page you will be able to change some features of the interface to suit your own requirements.


Language preferences

Each collection has a default presentation language, but you can switch to a different language if you like. You can also alter the encoding scheme used for output to the browser. You can also switch from the standard graphical interface format to a textual one. This is particularly useful for visually impaired users who use large screen fonts or speech synthesizers for output.


Search preferences

You can switch to an "advanced" query mode which allows you to combine terms using & (for "and"), | (for "or"), and ! (for "not"), using parentheses for grouping if desired. This allows you to specify more precise queries.

You can switch the search type of the collection between "normal" search, and "fielded" search.

A pair of buttons controls whether upper and lower case must match when searching. For example, if "ignore case differences" is selected, USAID will be treated the same as USaid and usaid.

A pair of buttons controls whether to ignore word endings or not when searching. For example, if "ignore word endings" is selected, demilitarized zone will be treated the same as demilitarized zones and demilitarize zone. This currently only works properly for English language text. It may be more convenient and precise to use the search term truncation facility described above in "Search terms".

A pair of buttons controls whether accented and unaccented letters must match when searching. Because no accents marks were added to the metadata, either select "ignore accents" in the preferences or do not enter them when searching.

You can turn on the search history feature, which shows you your last few queries. This makes it easy to repeat slightly modified versions of previous queries.

Finally, you can control the number of hits returned, and the number presented on each screenful.