Home | About | Help |  All collections | ...by Institution | Contact Us

A service of the Illinois State Library and the Office of the Illinois Secretary of StateILLINOIS DIGITAL ARCHIVES

Help Using the Illinois Digital Archives

Collections by Subject

The more than 130+ collections (individual groups of images, documents, etc. built around a central theme) are arranged by broad subject categories. A collection can appear in more than one subject category.

All Collections

This is a drop down list of all the collections that make up the Illinois Digital Archives. Clicking on any of the links takes you directly to the collection.

To dismiss the list, click on the "All Collections" link again.

By Institution

Many libraries and cultural heritage institutions throughout Illinois have contributed to the development of the Illinois Digital Archives. This link displays the list of collections, arranged by contributing institution. It also has a link to the institution's website which will open in a separate window.

Individual collection pages

Clicking on a collection link in the By Institution or By Subject takes you to a page that displays the thumbnails and titles of the images in a collection, 100 at a time, in a Pinterest-like display. Clicking on the images themselves will lead you to the full record and complete image, document, etc., on our CONTENTdm image repository.

Searching the collections

On each page, you will see an orange hourglass in the upper right hand corner. Clicking on this brings up a search box. The search box is "scoped"; the By Collection and the By Subject pages search all of IDA, the individual subject pages search only the collections listed on the page, and the individual pages only search within that collection.

The searches are performed using the CONTENTdm search engine. The following information on using the search engine is taken directly from the CONTENTdm site:

Using the Simple Search

The simple search box (in the heading of the website) searches for items across all fields in all collections for any term that you put in the search box, in any order. For example, if you search for "westward migration", the search engine searches for items containing "westward" AND "migration". (Or click advanced search to use other types of searches.)

The simple search box supports the use of a wildcard operator that enables you to search for approximate terms. Using an asterisk (*) at the end of a search term will search for results with none, or any number of any characters appended to the root search term. For example, test* will find results with the words "test," "tests," "tested" and so on.

New Search

After using the simple search or advanced search, you can start a new simple search by typing the search term and selecting New Search instead of Within Results. To clear an Advanced Search, click the Clear All button.

Refining Your Search

After using the simple search or advanced search, you can make your initial results more specific by searching Within Results from the simple search box or by choosing from the keywords listed in the Narrow Your Search By box. You also can add or remove collections from the search.

If you have narrowed your search too far, you can step back and display previous results by removing the keywords you used in your search path (click the X next to the search term displayed at the top of your results).

Using the Advanced Search

The Advanced Search pane enables you to select specific collections and to build a more complex search query on selected fields.

Building Your Search

First determine which search to use (across all fields, by selected fields or by date). The default selection is to search across all fields.

Then build your query and specify the collections to search. Add more search fields by clicking Add Another Field. Reduce the number of search fields by clicking Remove. You can have as many as four search fields and as few as one field.

Advanced Search offers four search types (or operators):

  1. All of the words -- searches for all of the words in any order. Using Boolean logic, this search is similar to using "AND". For instance, if you entered "President Theodore Roosevelt" in this search box, the search results would contain only those items containing all three terms. Do not include "AND" with your search terms. The Boolean operator "AND" is used automatically with the All of the words search and will be ignored if it is entered as a search term.
  2. The exact phrase -- searches for all of the words in the exact order. This is similar to using quotation marks in other search engines. For instance, if you were searching for "President Theodore Roosevelt", search results would contain only those items that contain the phrase "President Theodore Roosevelt".
  3. Any of the words -- searches for any of the words entered in the search box. Using Boolean logic, this search is similar to using "OR". For instance, if you entered "President Theodore Roosevelt" in this search box, the search results would contain all items containing any of the three terms, including results with only "President", only "Theodore", and only "Roosevelt". Do not include "OR" with your search terms. The Boolean operator "OR" is used automatically with the Any of the words search and will be ignored if it is entered as a search term.
  4. None of the words -- use this option with any of the other search boxes to exclude a term. Using Boolean logic, this search is similar to using "NOT". For instance, if you entered "President Roosevelt" in the exact phase search box and "Franklin" in this search box, the search results would contain all items containing "President Roosevelt" that do not contain the word "Franklin". Do not include "NOT" with your search terms. The Boolean operator "NOT" is used automatically with the None of the words search and will be ignored if it is entered as a search term.

Note: If you build a search query of multiple search fields that uses more than one type of operator, the query is executed from left to right, regardless of the operator.

Advanced Search supports the use of a wildcard operator that enables you to search for approximate terms. Using an asterisk (*) at the end of a search term will search for results with none, or any number of any characters appended to the root search term. For example, test* will find results with the words "test," "tests," "tested" and so on.

Search By Date

If available, you may have the option to search by date within collections. The default mode searches across all fields. Use the drop-down list to specify a date range, or to search after, before, or on a particular date. Entering a year (yyyy) is required to perform a search. You also can search by year and month, or by month and day and year.