Select Page

Helpful Boolean Search Terms

The following is an addendum to the November 2015 Archivist article on using the Old Fulton Postcards website.

Boolean—Boolean is a computer language that allows the computer to narrow the search terms by adding some simple code to the search terms. While it may sound daunting, learning a few Boolean terms will help you get more out of sites like Old Fulton, and works with most search engines, such as Google!

Continuing with our example of “Reverend John Doe.” Experiment with adding the following terms to your search and see what happens. With Boolean, you can learn a few basic commands and combine them to get ever more specific with what you are looking for.

Note: Make sure to select “Boolean” from the drop-down menu before hitting “Search.”

BOOLEAN EXAMPLEWHAT DOES IT RETURN?
ANDJohn AND DoeResults that have “John” and “Doe” on the same page, note that these terms may not have any relationship to each other.
AND NOTJohn AND NOT JonathanResults that only have John, excluding any result with Jonathan.
ORJohn OR DoeResults that have “John” or “Doe” on the same page, note that these terms may not have any relationship to each other.
John Doe (minus sign before Doe)Will find documents that have a “John” on the page but no “Doe” on the same page.
“ ”“Reverend John Doe
(whole search phrase in quotes)
Results that either have only the whole name “Reverend John Doe” on the page. But if the page contains “Rev. John Doe” or “Rev. Doe,” it will not make a match. (Same as “Exact Phrasing, above.)
PROXIMITY SEARCHING
w#WITHIN Operator: John w2 Doe

NEAR Operator: John n10 Doe
WITHIN Operator: Inserting w and a number (in this case 2) will find results that have “John” and “Doe” within two words of each other. This can be helpful if a middle name is used, e.g., “Jane Liz Doe,” as it will just look for the two words within two words of each other and ignore what is between them.

NEAR Operator: Inserting n and a number (in this case 10) will find will find results that have “John” and “Doe” near each other, separated by no more than 10 other characters.
(OR) w#(John OR Jane) w2 DoeWill find a “John” or a “Jane” within two words of “Doe” = “John Doe” or “Jane Doe”
( )
(John w2 Doe) AND (Jane w2 Doe)Will find documents that have BOTH “John Doe” and “Jane Doe” on the same page
WILD-CARDSWHAT DO THEY DO?
*Rev* J*n DoeThe insertion of an asterisk allows any number of characters to be replaced as wild-cards. In this example it will return “Rev” or Reverend” and “Jonathan,” “John,” or “Jan.”
?J??n Doe
(Insert multiple question-marks, to allow for more variables.)
The insertion of a question-mark, specifies how many characters can be replaced with wild-cards. In this example, inserting two question-marks will allow it to replace two characters, “John,” “Jahn,” etc.
RANGES
~1890 ~1900Inserting a tilde will define a range of dates to search. (Note that on Old Fulton, it may look for the dates of the scans, not titles. In addition, some newspapers printed the date of publication on every page while others did not.)
COMPLEX BOOLEAN STRINGS — You can also create strings of Boolean terms, creating ever more specific search parameters.
(Filename Contains (NJ))Will return files only with NJ in the title. (Note that the search term is placed within parenthesis, and then within another set of parenthesis along with the command.)
(Rev OR Reverend) AND (John OR Jan) w2 D?Will return either Rev or Reverend and John or Jan within two words of D?e
e.g., “Rev. John Doe,” or “Reverend John Dae,” or “Rev. Jan Peter Doe.” The possibilities are endless.

GSBC, RPL, and Other Events of Note

Jan
24
Mon
7:00 pm The Last Vital Event: Finding Ev...
The Last Vital Event: Finding Ev...
Jan 24 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
The Last Vital Event: Finding Even More Beyond the Death Certificate
GSBC General Meeting The Last Vital Event: Finding Even More Beyond the Death Certificate Diana Crisman Smith Monday, 24 January 2022 @ 7pm Eastern Online—all are welcome. Registration required. Do you stop searching when you[...]
Feb
8
Tue
7:00 pm Sending Love: Valentine’s Greeti...
Sending Love: Valentine’s Greeti...
Feb 8 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Sending Love: Valentine's Greetings 1900–1910
Sending Love: Valentine’s Greetings 1900–1910 Tuesday, 8 February @ 7pm Presentation by Anthony Cavo Online and open to all, registration required Roses are red, Violets are blue, Learn about Valentine’s Day Greetings, From a history[...]
Feb
14
Mon
2:00 pm GSBC Extra! Home Genealogies: Wh...
GSBC Extra! Home Genealogies: Wh...
Feb 14 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
GSBC Extra! Home Genealogies: Who’s Been Sleeping in my Bed?
GSBC Extra! Home Genealogies: Who’s Been Sleeping in my Bed? Presentation by Beth Potter Monday, February 14, 2022 @ 2pm Eastern Online and open to all! Registration required. House historian Beth Potter will talk about ways to[...]
Feb
28
Mon
7:00 pm Civil War Medical Records
Civil War Medical Records
Feb 28 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Civil War Medical Records
GSBC General Meeting Civil War Medical Records Craig Roberts Scott, MA, CG, FUGA Monday, 28 February 2022 @ 7pm Eastern Online—all are welcome. Registration required. The medical records in the U.S. National Archives (NARA) provide[...]
Mar
14
Mon
2:00 pm GSBC Extra! Case Studies in New ...
GSBC Extra! Case Studies in New ...
Mar 14 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
GSBC Extra! Case Studies in New Jersey Genealogy
GSBC Extra! Case Studies in New Jersey Genealogy Presentation by Melissa A. Johnson, CG Monday, 14 March 2022 @ 2pm Eastern Online and open to all! Registration required. This talk will present several case studies covering different[...]
Mar
28
Mon
7:00 pm The Persistence of the Dutch Lan...
The Persistence of the Dutch Lan...
Mar 28 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
The Persistence of the Dutch Language in New York and New Jersey
GSBC General Meeting The Persistence of the Dutch Language in New York and New Jersey Kieran J. O’Keefe, PhD Monday, 28 March 2022 @ 7pm Eastern Online—all are welcome. Registration required. This talk will explore[...]
Apr
1
Fri
2:00 pm What’s in the 1950 Census? A Rou... @ Ridgewood Public Library
What’s in the 1950 Census? A Rou... @ Ridgewood Public Library
Apr 1 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
What’s in the 1950 Census? A Roundtable Discussion (In-Person at RPL, seating limited) Friday, 1 April @ 2pm Ridgewood Public Library The wait is over…the 1950 census is released today and we’re here to discuss.[...]
Apr
25
Mon
7:00 pm Bill Ervolino—The Importance of ... @ Ridgewood Public Library
Bill Ervolino—The Importance of ... @ Ridgewood Public Library
Apr 25 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Bill Ervolino—The Importance of Stories @ Ridgewood Public Library
GSBC General Meeting Bill Ervolino—The Importance of Stories Monday, 25 April 2022 @ 7pm Eastern Hybrid presentation—online and in-person. Registration required. An informative and entertaining program about preserving your family’s history with an author who[...]

GSBC Genealogy Consultants

The GSBC is continuing to offer free consultant slots, via online conference call, to those looking for help with their family research.

Please email gsbc.queries@gmail.com for more information about available time slots.