This page contains advice on how to get the best out of the search facilities available on this site.
This web site has an online database containing descriptive entries from a number of archive repositories. (The actual documents/collections themselves are not online).
The Advanced Search page is divided into five areas:
- Geographical Area
- Collection Type
- Name of Repository & Collection Reference Number
To view the entire contents of the online database simply click the 'Search Archive' button at the bottom of the screen without entering any search criteria.
Results are displayed twenty to a page. The entires are sorted by the publication date, with the latest entries at the top of the list. The header at the top of the page labeled 'Your Search Results', tells you how many records matching your search criteria were returned. You can navigate this list by clicking the Right arrow for the next twenty or the Left arrow for the previous twenty. To open an individual entry click its 'Archive Reference' in the list view.
Keyword searching is perhaps the most powerful of the search facilities provided. Here you can enter any words you choose or a short phrase and the program will return all Archive Descriptions containing your words.
By default the radio button 'all these words' is chosen. Taking this option will return only those Archive Descriptions that contain all the words you have entered. You could widen your search by selecting 'some of these words' instead. Either way, in both of these cases, the search engine does not consider the order in which you entered these words when returning a result. To search for an exact phrase click the radio button labeled 'this exact wording'.
Keyword searching also supports a wildcard character. This character is the at symbol, '@'. So for example, if you entered 'rep@' as your key word it would return results that included, representative, republic, republican, etc. The wildcard character can only be used at the end of a character string. Searching for '@tive' will most likely return nothing. Searching with the wildcard character may add to the time taken to return a result.
When you open an Archival Description following a keyword search, the keywords are highlighted thus.
Search by Year
You can search the database by year. You have a choice of three search types. They are after a specified year, before a specified year and between specified years. You can make your choice of after, before or between by selecting from a popup. The default is to search after a specified year. The year entered must be numberic and in the format YYYY. This search is designed to be as inclusive as possible. For example if you search for "year is after 1798", the search will return collections with content created prior to 1798 if they have a closing date after 1798.
Search by Geographical Area
Each database entry may have multiple entries specifying a geographical area mentioned in or relative to an Archival Description. This relates to the content or context of a collection, not its physical location.
Where geographical area records are created, they will at the very least have data for county and province. In some instances a town, a townland or a city name may also be specified. When searching using the Townland, City field enter only one word. This search is similar to the keyword search in that you can also use the wildcard character '@' in your search condition. By default County and Province are set to 'Any'. To include one of these in your search criteria make a selection from the popups provided. By selecting a county you automatically specify a province.
Search by Collection Type
Each Archival Description in the database is categorised by Collection Type. A list of the Collection Types available is provided. By default 'Look in All Collections' is selected. To select a specific Collection Type click its name in the list provided. You can select multiple Collection Types by holding down the Command Key (Mac) or Ctrl Key (PC) while selecting the collection types you are interested in. If you specify more than one Collection Type the search will return database entries for each type selected.
Note: Certain archival collections may not fit in to a neat ‘Collection Type’, and may be categorised as Other/Not Specified.
Search by Repository or Reference No.
If you know the unique reference number of an Archival Description you can search for it here. You can also use the wildcard character '@' in your search.
Each repository that has contributed to the IAR database is listed under 'Repository Name'. By default 'Any' is selected, but you can narrow your search results by specifying a specific repository.
Combining Search Areas
You can specify search criteria in one or all of the five search areas mentioned above.
If no search criteria are entered and you click the 'Search Archive' button then all of the database records are displayed.
If you specify search criteria in more that one area then the boolean operator 'And' is used to compile your search results. So for example if you entered 'Gaelic League' under Keyword Searching and selected 'this exact wording' and then selected 'Personal & Family Papers' under Collection Type, your search would return all Archival Descriptions containing the specified words and classified as 'Personal & Family Papers'.
If there are no records in the database that match your search criteria you are returned to the Search page. A line in red informs you that no records were found. The form is pre filled with your search criteria ready for you to edit it and try again.
At the top right hand corner of each result listing there is a 'Re-Search' button. Clicking this button returns you to the Search page which is pre filled with the last search criteria you specified. To return to a blank search page click the text 'Search' on the left of the black navigation bar. This search option is available on every site page.
.....and finally, when searching, bear in mind that your web browser can have more that one window or tab open at a time. This means that you could run several searches and keep each result live in its own window.