Website Help


There are different ways to navigate the site depending on your goals.

Browse the archive: Visit the Overview and Topics pages to learn about archive holdings and to find items of interest. The Overview page shows the different types of objects in the archive—e.g., books, prints, letters, etc. and the Topics page lists all the subjects that are covered—e.g., animals, George Washington, military uniforms, etc.

Delve into the collections: Visit the Castle Clinton, Federal Hall, General Grant Memorial, Hamilton Grange, St. Paul's Church and Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace pages to learn about the Manhattan historic sites and navigate to their collections and finding aids.

Search: Use the search tool when you want to find something in particular. There are two variants. The simple search form on the left side of every page searches for a word or phrase anywhere in the database, whereas the more elaborate form on the Advanced Search page allows you to perform the search on specific database fields.

To understand the difference, consider a case where you are looking for items created in 1885. If you use the simple search form (or the "Words or Phrases" field on the Advanced Search page), your results will include items associated with 1885 in all ways—for example, items describing events that occurred in 1885 and those created by people who were born or died in 1885, as well as those actually created in 1885. On the other hand, if you use the "Date Created" field on the Advanced Search form, your results will only include items created in that year.

For more guidance on searching, see the Detailed Search Instructions below.

Viewing Images

The images of the items on the catalog record pages can all be enlarged using the following techniques:

Detailed Search Instructions

As explained above, the simple search form on the left side of every page is for searches across all fields in the database, while the form on the Advanced Search page is for targeted searches of fields that you specify.

By default, searches within a search field are done as "and" searches. This means that all the words entered in the search field must be found in an item record for the item to show up in the search results list. (However, the words need not be in the same order or even adjacent to one another in the record.)

You can change this behavior and generate an "or" search instead, where the tool searches for items that match any one of the terms, by entering the word "or" between the search terms, as in "drawing or print." You can also do combined and/or searches, such as "drawing or print and grant," which will find records that mention either drawing or print along with grant.

To search for an exact phrase of two or more words, enclose the phrase in quotation marks—e.g., '"grant's tomb"' (with one set of quotation marks included).

Although searches within fields are "and" searches by default, searches involving multiple fields on the Advanced Search page are "or" searches, meaning that you will get results if matches are found for terms entered in any of the search fields. (Meanwhile, within each field, the search is still done on an "and" basis.)

The search tool only conducts whole word searches, so enter the full word or words for which you want to search. There is no auto-complete.

Capitalization is not important. Plurals are since these are whole word searches. That means a search on the word "rider" will not find records that only have the plural version of the word. To find items matching either, do an "or" search as described above ("rider or riders").

Following is detailed information on the individual fields on the Advanced Search form:

People: Use this search field to search for names in any of the database fields where people's names are stored, such as Artist/Maker, Subjects and Eminent Figures.

Note that names in the people fields are stored in reverse order, with the last name first. Therefore to get an exact match on a full name, you need to put the last name first. Also, you have to skip the comma, as commas interfere with the search. For instance, enter "Adams John" (with the quotation marks and without a comma) to search for John Adams and screen out results for John Quincy Adams Ward. If searching for the latter, enter "Ward John Quincy Adams" to screen out John Adams.

Date Created: Use this search field to find items created on a particular date or year or in a range of years.

Enter dates in number form. Use the format YYYY (all four digits) to search for a year; YYYY-MM for month and year; YYYY-MM-DD for day, month and year.

A search on two digits (such as "08") will turn up items created on either the month or day represented by that number.

To search for a range of years, use the format "YYYY to YYYY," such as "1850 to 1900."

Place Created: Use this search field to find items created in a particular town, state or country.

When searching for the state, enter the AACR2 abbreviation, not the US Postal Code abbreviation or full name (e.g., enter "Mass." instead of "MA" or "Massachusetts"). For cities and countries, use the full name.

Item Name: Use this search field to find items with a particular word or words in the name. Enclose the words in quotation marks for an exact match.

Object Type: Use this search field to find items classified as a particular object type in the database, such as book, print or letter. Enter the singular form of the word ("book," not "books"). Following is a list of the most common and/or interesting object types in the archive.

Architectural drawing
Lantern Slide
Press release
Sheet Music
Subscription list

Catalog #: Use this search field to search for items by catalog number. All catalog numbers begin with a four-character abbreviation denoting the site to which the item belongs, followed by a space, followed by a numerical value. The abbreviations are CACL for Castle Clinton, FEHA for Federal Hall, GEGR for General Grant Memorial, HAGR for Hamilton Grange, SAPA for St. Paul's Church and THRB for Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace.

To get a list of all items belonging to a site's collections, enter just the four-character abbreviation.

Words or Phrases; This is the same as the simple search on the left side of every page. Enter a word or words to search across all fields in the database.

Show Results for: This drop-down menu can be used to filter results by site. Just enter the search terms in the other fields and use the drop-down menu to select the site for which you want results. The same drop-down menu is available on the search results page, so you can also apply the filter after the fact.