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African American Biographical Database: Search Tips

A guide to all aspects of ProQuest's African American Biographical Database including content, searching, and viewing results.

Boolean Operators

     AND

Use AND to narrow a search and retrieve records containing all of the words it separates, e.g. Georgia and religion ; Georgia and religion and preacher, will only find records containing the specified search terms. Note: If you wish to search for the word 'and' in a phrase rather than using it as a Boolean operator, you should type the phrase into the search box and enclose it in double quotation marks (i.e., "jazz and blues").


 

      OR 

Use OR to broaden a search and retrieve records containing any of the words it separates, e.g. Georgia or Florida ; Georgia or Florida or Louisiana will find records containing any, some or all of the search terms. Note: If you wish to search for the word 'or' in a phrase rather than using it as a Boolean operator, you should type the phrase into the search box and enclose it in double quotation marks (i.e., "jazz or blues").


       NOT 

Use NOT to narrow a search and retrieve records that do not contain the term following it, e.g. religion not preacher will find records that contain religion, but will not contain the word preacher.  Note: If you wish to search for the word 'not' in a phrase rather than using it as a Boolean operator, you should type the phrase into the search box and enclose it in double quotation marks (i.e., "jazz not blues").

Stop Words

There are no stop words. Every word found in all documents have been indexed  and are searchable.

Search Tips

·        Use quotation marks (“ ”) to search for exact phrases.

 

·        Two word queries such as advertising campaigns are searched as an implicit AND, except when more than one search term has been selected from a browsable index. Selected index terms are automatically joined by the OR operator.

 

·        Use an asterisk (*) and Boolean or proximity operators to focus queries.

 

Truncation, Wildcard, and Hyphen Characters

*

The asterisk (*) is the Truncation character, used to replace one or more characters. The truncation character can be used at the beginning (left-hand truncation), the end (right-hand truncation), or in the middle of a word.

Example: Searching for econom* will find economy, economics, economical, etc.
Searching for *old will find told, household, bold, etc.

?

The question mark symbol (?) is the Wildcard character, used to replace any single character, either inside or at the right end of the word.
The wildcard character cannot be used to begin a word.

Example: Searching for t?re will find tire, tyre, tore, etc.
Searching for ad??? will find added, adult, adopt

-

Use a hyphen to indicate a range when searching numerical fields, such as Publication date.

Example: YR(2005-2008)

Proximity Operators

Proximity and adjacency operators are used to broaden and narrow your search.
 

near

or

near.#

Near finds documents where these words are within some number of words of each other (either before or after).

Note: If no maximum is set, results retreived will reflect entries where all the terms entered are within ten (10) word of each other.

Examples: slavery near Virginia ;  slavery near.3 Virginia

 

fby

or

fby.#

Follwed By (fby) is used to search for terms within a specified distance of each other, and in the specified order.

Examples: American fby revolution ; Mississippi fby.5 steamer