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Fold3 Search Tips (updated)

The search on Fold3 is designed to help you quickly filter through millions of images to find what you are looking for. If you have suggestions for improvements to the search, please use the Contact Fold3 page to send them to us.

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Basic Searching

In general it is best to start with a simple search and then narrow the results using the categories, titles, and filters on the search results page.

By default, a search will look for results that match all your terms (except common words like an, and, of, etc.). The first results will be those where the terms you entered appear in the same field, for example a first and last name together in one annotation. After that, you'll see results that include matches from anywhere on the page.

A basic search will include some simple variations on words you include (e.g. president to presidents). To exclude the variations, place quotation marks around the words you would like to search exactly (e.g. "William" to exclude Williams from your results).

It's generally best to avoid putting quotation marks around a first and last name together ("Lawrence Williams"). This may exclude some matching results. If a middle name or initial was in a document - "Lawrence E. Williams" - as an example, would not show up among your results. When in doubt, try your search with and without quotes.

Matching terms may come from information we have indexed for the image or from Annotations, Spotlights, Comments, or other information added by other Members.

If you don't get any results, try broadening your search by removing some of the terms. It's easy to narrow your results later using the filters on the results page.

It's always a good idea to try your search with variant spellings to make sure you catch any errors in the records or in the index. You can use the asterisk (*) wildcard to replace any number of characters (e.g. Anders*n = Anderson, Andersen, Andersson, etc.).

There is also a "sounds like" option for first and last names in Advanced Search. This will include names like Groham, Grayham, and Crahom for Graham. 

Reviewing Your Results

At the top left of the page you'll find the number of matches for your search with your current search terms in boxes next to it. You can remove a search term by clicking the "remove" link, an X, to the right of the term.

On the search results page, you'll see several filters to help you narrow your search.

At the top of the left-hand column, you'll find boxes representing the types or results that match your search, for example, Images, Memorial Pages, Member Comments, etc.  By default the search shows matches from all these types.  Click on one of the boxes to narrow your results to just matches of that type.

Below these boxes you'll find a checkbox that allows you hide or show matches that come from documents read by computers using Optical Character Recognition (OCR).  These can be useful matches, but may not provide as precise a result as you might like.

Below the checkbox you'll find a list of your results, including thumbnails of matching images and information to help you decide which results will be helpful to you.  The information that matches your search should be highlighted.

If you need more information to evaluate an image, click the Quick Look link found under the image. This will open the Quick Look window which includes a larger thumbnail of the image and all the information about that image from our index. Index information is always free on Fold3, so anyone can view the Quick Look.

To go straight to an image or story page, click the thumbnail or the "View Image" button.

Under the information from the image you'll find links to add the image to Your Gallery, to add the image to a Footnote Page or to flag the image for errors or inappropriate content.

Narrowing Your Search

In the left hand column of the search results page you'll find a list of categories you can use to narrow your results and get to the information you really want.

The real power of Fold3's search is that the left hand column reflects information that is in results matching your search. The Place category is not just a generic list of places, but a list of places found in items that match your initial search. As a result, you can see specific information that is available for narrowing your search.

When your search results span several Titles or Collections, you'll see general categories that apply across all titles like, First Name, Last Name, Title or Collection, Year, Place, Result Type or Category, but as you narrow your results (especially if you choose a specific title) the available categories will become more specific. To see a good example of this, try searching for a last name, then select Vietnam Veterans Memorial from the Title or Collection category and notice the categories in the left column.

Click on a category to open it and you'll see the top 100 keywords for that category listed with the number of results for each in parentheses. Type the keyword you'd like to add to your search in the box. As you type we'll start looking for matching terms. You can use the asterisk (*) wildcard to replace unknown characters in these category boxes (e.g. Anders*n = Anderson, Andersen, Andersson, etc.).

Once you find the term you'd like to add to your search, click it and you'll see it appear with your search terms at the top of the left column.  You can click on it there to edit that term or click "remove" to clear it from your search.

You can add multiple keywords from various categories to get just the results you want.

Advanced Search and Searching Within a Title or Part of a Title

You can get to the Advanced Search page by clicking the down arrow on the right side of the search button and selecting "Advanced Search" from the list.

Advanced Search allows you to enter search terms into specific fields and to search over a date range.

Another way to start with a more focused search is to search within a specific title or part of a title. There are two places you can use search within:

  1. On the Original Documents page or on the search results page you will find a blue search box that includes a pull-down menu for selecting the title you would like to search within.
  2. On the Browse screen, browse to the title (or subsection of a title) you're interested in and then use the brown "Search within" box at the bottom of the page to search.

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