Help: Boolean and proximity searching

To narrow the scope of your search you can use the following special sets of predefined words, called operators, to join together your search terms:

Boolean operators

The Gerritsen Collection allows you to combine your search terms so you can target your search at more specific areas. For example, from the Search page you can list records in The Gerritsen Collection which contain the words employment and children.

You combine your search terms using the following special keywords, called Boolean operators:

  • AND
  • OR
  • NOT

AND

The AND operator retrieves all records that contain the search terms it separates. However, this type of search normally retrieves fewer results than if you searched for one of the terms on its own.

e.g. employment AND children

If you have entered search terms in more than one search box, The Gerritsen Collection treats them as if they were combined using the AND operator.

Note that if you want to search for the word 'and' in a phrase, such as 'food and drink', you should type the phrase into the search box and enclose it in double quotes; for example, "food and drink".

OR

The OR operator retrieves all records that contain either or both of the search terms it separates. This type of search retrieves more results than if you searched for one of the terms on its own.

e.g. Army OR Navy

If you select more than one search term from a list, The Gerritsen Collection automatically combines them in the search box using this operator.

NOT

The NOT operator retrieves all records that contain the first search term but not the second.

e.g. emigration NOT Ireland

Proximity operators

The Gerritsen Collection not only allows you to search for a particular word or phrase, but also enables you to refine your searches by using two proximity operators to look for words that are close to each other:

  • NEAR
  • FBY (Followed BY)

NEAR

The NEAR operator retrieves records containing terms that have a specified distance between each other, and are in any order.

For example:
treaty NEAR Netherlands
weaving NEAR.3 lancashire

FBY

FBY retrieves records containing terms that have a specified distance between each other, and are in a specified order.

For example:
domestic FBY servants
health FBY.4 housing

If you don't set a distance, The Gerritsen Collection will list all items that contain the specified terms within 10 words of each other.

Wildcard characters

The Gerritsen Collection allows you to use the * (asterisk) wildcard character to find variations on a word ending. * can represent zero, one or more characters.

e.g. work* finds work, works, working, worker, workman, workmen

The Gerritsen Collection allows you to use the ? (question mark) wildcard character anywhere in a search term(unlike * which is just for endings). ? can represent zero or one characters.