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Tips for Beginners

  • In a search form with more than one box you have to fill out the first box. Otherwise your search will not return any results.
  • Many of the search forms have an option that are available on pull-down menus. Put your mouse on the box and hold down the mouse button to see and make your choices.
  • Truncation is not automatic To search variations and the plural of a word, include an asterisk * at the end of the word. For example, herb*, will look for herbs, herbivore, herbarium, herbicide and so forth. The simple term herb will look only for the word herb.

Searching vs. browsing


  • locates works that contain information specified in the search -- such as certain words in the title or text or an author's name.
  • returns a list of the titles that contain that information.

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Simple searching

Simple searches are good for basic searching using few terms. Enter a word or phrase, including an author's name. The search looks for the terms anywhere in any of the texts. No search limit options are available. If using common words, this search may produce a very large number of results. For more complex searches, with search limit options, try an Advanced Search.

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Advanced searching

Boolean searching

Boolean searches allow you to combine up to three search terms or phrases and look for them in the same page or work.

For example:

  • submitting a query for farming will result in a full-text search for all works in the Liberian Law database in which that term occurs.
  • submitting a query for farming AND garden, the search would be limited to works in which both farming and garden appeared somewhere in the text.

Same page or work option:

  • allows you to broaden or narrow your Boolean search.
  • Same page looks for your terms where they all appear on the same page.
  • Same work looks for the terms anywhere in the work.

How Boolean searches are executed:

  • Boolean expressions are operated on from left to right, just like mathematical equations. This means that you will need to take some care in formulating your search. For example: You wish to find any texts that mention the word horse AND either the words cattle OR sheep. Your search should be formulated as: cattle OR sheep AND horse.
  • Since the search works from left to right, the search will first look for the set of texts that contains EITHER cattle or sheep.
  • Then the search will look within that set of texts for the ones that also mention horse.
  • Those texts will be your results set.

If you had formulated your search as horse AND cattle OR sheep you would have gotten a very different set of results. Why?

  • Since the search works from left to right, the search would have first looked for the set of texts that contains BOTH the words horse and cattle.
  • Next it would have looked for the texts that contain the word sheep.
  • Then it would combine those two sets of results and eliminated the duplicates to give you your results.
  • This means you would have a whole set of texts that contained sheep but make no mention of horse.

Proximity searching

Proximity searches look for the co-occurrence of search terms. This allows you to specify the physical relationship between the words you are looking for -- so you can look for words following each other or near each other.

  • You can look for words or phrases within 40, 80 or 120 characters of each other.
  • You can find places where one term is followed by another.
  • You can look for places where words are Not Near and Not Followed By other words.

For example:

  • if you want only those texts in Liberian Law in which the terms animal and husbandry appeared relatively near each other, search those terms within 40-80 characters.
  • to find those terms only when one follows another select the proximity operator Followed By. Animal followed by husbandry would help you locate only those works that are perhaps more directly concerned with "animal husbandry".
  • to find all occurrences of a term when it is not followed by another closely associated term, you may use the proximity operators Not Near or Not Followed By. For instance, if you were only interested in animal, a search for the term animal Not Near husbandrywould yield all occurrences of animal when not directly referring to husbandry.

Bibliographic searching

Bibliographic searches are useful for quickly locating items with a known title or author. You may also search using a known subject heading or for a keyword anywhere in the bibliographic citation (so you could also search for items from a particular publisher or all the works published in New York in 1930).

For example:

You want to find all the works in by members of the Bailey family.

  1. Enter Bailey in the text box.
  2. Select Author from the pull-down menu.
  3. Press the submit button.

Your results will list all works written by authors who have Bailey somewhere in their names.

  • You are interested in all the works by xxx in 1930.
    1. Enter xxx in the text box.
    2. Select author from the pull-down menu.
    3. Choose the Boolean operator And from the pull-down menu of operators.
    4. Enter 1930 in the next text box.
    5. Select year from the pull-down menu.
    6. Press the submit button.

Your results may contain some false matches if the words xxx and 1930 appear in other parts of the citation (such as the title), but most will match your desired criteria.

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Understanding search results

  • Your search results are returned in an alphabetized list, according to the author.
  • There are hyperlinks to the table of contents and an option to add the book to the bookbag. The contents of the bookbag can either be emailed to an address or directly downloaded onto your computer.
  • Each result indicates density by telling you how many matches are found in the entire work. Clicking on the Document body hyperlink will show you the page numbers on which the term occurs.

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You can also browse through a bibliography of a28 Liberian Law titles which are organized alphabetically.


  • Use the alphabet links to jump to a desired section of the alphabet.
  • To then locate a particular name or title word, use your browser's find command to search that section of the bibliography. In Windows computers this is typically "Control+F"; in Macintosh, hold down the Apple+F keys.
  • All titles are hyperlinked to the book.

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Other topics

OCR text vs page images

May Anti-Slavery Manuscript Collection materials have been encoded in a simple SGML form (a 40 element DTD conforming to the TEI Guidelines). This data includes the document text from the OCR process. Many users have asked if they can have access to the plain, uncorrected OCR text. We believe that in most cases people will still want to look at the page images of the books, but have decided to make the text available to users so they can save it, cut and paste, and to use the "find" feature on their Web browsers to locate a word on a page. We think that this will be of benefit to our users.

If you want to view the plain text, there are a couple of ways to accomplish this:

  • Page by page viewing: Go to the desired page and choose "view as text" from the view as menu in the toolbar at the top. As you move forward or back in the work, you will continue paging through plain text until you choose another "view as" option (such as image or pdf).
  • Entire books: You may choose to view an entire book in plain text by selecting the ‘view as text’ option. The file can be saved by selecting the ‘save’ option in the browser’s File menu. By default, the file will be saved as HTML, which can be viewed with a web browser (text will not be broken up by line or page -- it is one large block of text). You can also change the file extension to .txt to save as text for viewing with a text editor or word processor (this preserves line and page breaks).

Please be aware that some of these texts are as long as 1,000 pages and will take a long time to download, particularly over a modem. Such a large download may also crash your Web browser.

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Viewing and Navigating a text

When you begin to view a book, you will also see a separate navigation frame at the top of your browser that looks like this (without the number labels).

This is what the various parts mean:

  • Previous page: Click on this icon. It goes to the previous page of the text.
  • Page #: indicates the number of the page you are viewing and the total number of pages in the text
  • Next page: Click on this icon. It goes to the next page of the text.
  • View as: sets the size of the image you are viewing. If you have a smaller monitor you might want to choose a low percentage. The percentages are in a pull down menu. The size you choose will stay in effect until you change it or end your session. Other options on this menu include:
    • PDF (best for printing, not viewing)
    • Text Allows you to view the raw OCR text or (if available) the proofed and encoded text.
  • Go to page #: Jumps to a desired page that you enter in the box. Especially handy for moving from a table of contents to a section of a book. "Go to page #" is a button and must be clicked on to jump to the desired page.
  • Go to: jumps to special purpose pages such as title pages, tables of contents, and lists of illustrations. The special pages are listed in a pull down menu. Not all texts will contain the same choices.

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Printing a text

  • The best way to print is to use the PDF option. This option is offered on the "view as" pulldown menu. To use PDF, you will need the Adobe Acrobat viewer. This is available for free from Adobe.
  • To print using PDF:
    • select PDF from the "view as" options (don't forget to click on the button)
    • when the image opens in Acrobat, click on the printer icon on the far right of the toolbar
  • Texts in the May ANti-Slavery Manuscript Collection can only be printed page by page
  • If you print directly from your browser, texts will print at the size of the image you are viewing (100%. 75%, etc)
  • You will need to calculate maximum clarity against fitting a page on a standard piece of paper when you decide what size image to print. 25% may be unreadable. 100% may not fit on a standard printer's paper.

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Browser requirements

This web site has been optimized for viewing at a screen resolution of 1024x768 or higher, using the latest version of Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape, or Internet Explorer for the PC or Mac. It utilizes DLXS version 13 for displaying collection content.

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