You can conduct searches by entering search terms into the main search bar. The main search bar can be used to search all collections at the same time. Type in your search terms and then click the "Search" button or hit the "Enter" key.
While searching, keep in mind that you have access to the following helpful features.
Automatic Spelling Corrections and "Did you mean" Search Suggestions
As you enter search terms in the main search bar, suggested topics or names will come up automatically for you to choose from. If your initial search does not bring up any results, the system will suggest alternate searches that are known to bring back results.
Narrowing Down Your Search
If you run a search and get a lot of search results, you can choose to refine your search by using the "Revise Search" options.
Brief and Detailed Views
You can view more information about each item in your search results by clicking on the name of the item. Clicking on the item name a second time will bring back the brief view of the item.
You can save items that you’re interested in to a temporary list by clicking on the "Select" button. If you would like to remove an item from the list, click on the "Remove" button. Multiple items can be added to the list, across different searches. To view your list, select the "View Selections" link or button. From the list, you may save the items to a PDF, email them, or submit a request to us for more information about them.
There is an Advanced Search form to help you build more complex searches if you are looking for a particular item or researching a very specific topic. To access the Advanced Search form, click on the "Advanced Search" link under the main search bar, and select the "Advanced Search" tab if it’s not already selected.
To create an advanced search, use the "Select a field" drop down menu to select a field that you would like to search, and then type in your search terms. You can search up to 3 fields at once to help narrow down your search results.
You can also click and drag the stoppers on the timeline to narrow down your results by date, or manually enter a date range in the "From Date" and "To Date" boxes.
Additional options may be available, such as which media types you wish to find (e.g., limiting your results to records with documents only).
Once you have finished filling out the form, click the "Search" button to run your search. Alternatively, you can choose to start over by clicking the "Clear Form" button.
Browsing indexes is a way of exploring the collections if you do not have a specific topic in mind. To access the Browsing options, click on the "Advanced Search" link under the main search bar, then select one of the "Browse" tabs. For example, if you want to explore all the different subjects that are covered in the collections, click on the "Browse Subjects" tab.
Each Browse tab is displayed alphabetically. You can scroll down the page to look through all the possibilities, or you can narrow down the options by selecting a letter from the alphabet menu at the top of the list. The number next to each option tells you how many matching items there are in the collections. To view the matching items, click on the option and the results will open up automatically.
The additional search options listed here can be used as described, on their own, or in combination.
You can combine search terms with the AND, OR, and NOT Boolean operators (typed out in all capitals).
Multiple search terms are automatically assumed to be combined with AND, but you can combine the search terms explicitly by typing out AND between the terms. Use AND for searching when you want results that match both (or more) search terms.
e.g., to search for documents that contain both horse and doll, in the search bar, type:
horse AND doll
To look for records that match any one of your search terms, use OR.
e.g., to search for documents that contain either horse or doll, in the search bar, type:
horse OR doll
Use NOT if you would like to include one search term but exclude another.
e.g., to search for documents that contain horse but do not contain toy, in the search bar, type:
horse NOT toy
You can use parentheses to group terms and phrases. This can be very useful if you want to control the boolean logic for a query.
e.g., to search for documents that contain both water and quality, but not lakes, in the search bar, type:
(water AND quality) NOT lakes
To search for an exact phrase, enclose the phrase in quotation marks in the search bar.
e.g., to search for documents that contain the exact words 'toy horse', type:
Wildcard searches can be used when you do not know the exact term you are searching for, or if you wish to look at variations of your search term.
e.g., to find results that match text or test, you can use the ? symbol and search for:
The ? symbol is used in place of a single character. To search for multiple unknown characters, use the * symbol.
e.g., to find results that match test, tests, tester, testing, or any other variation that begins with test, search for:
The * symbol can be used in the middle of a term.
e.g., to find test, tempest, tenet, etc. (i.e., any words that begin with "te-" and end in "-t"), search for:
You can also use the ? and * symbols at the start of a term.
e.g., to search for test, harvest, forest, etc. (i.e., any words that end in "-est"), search for:
To search for documents that have two terms within a certain number of words of each other, use the ~ symbol with a number.
e.g., to search for the terms toy and horse within 10 words of each other, search for:
where the desired terms are in quotation marks, followed immediately by the ~ symbol and a number.
The ~ symbol can also be used for approximate searches, but only when a single word is being searched.
e.g., to search for terms that are similar in spelling to cat, search for:
This will bring back results that match terms like bat, rat, mat and hat, in addition to cat.
To perform a range search, use the [ ] symbols and the word TO (in all capitals).
e.g., if you’re searching for names that fall alphabetically between Adam and Hudson, search for:
[Adam TO Hudson]
You can also search a range of numbers using the same method.
e.g., if you’re searching for documents from between 2006 to 2008, search for:
[2006 TO 2008]
To give one search term more importance over another, you can use the ^ symbol followed by a number.
e.g., if you want to search for documents with both drainage and lakes, but lakes is the more important search term, search for:
which will give the term lakes 5 times the value of the term drainage.
View our PDF of additional services offered by the Elgin County Archives, and associated fees, including photographic reproductions. Other institutions represented in this site may offer services and fees that differ; contact each institution separately.
To order photographic reproductions, search for the photos you wish to order, add them to your selection list, then view your list and use the Request More Information feature to submit your request to us. We'll reply confirming your order as soon as we can.