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What is Boolean?
Boolean is a set of values that helps determine if something is true or false. In simpler terms, it allows users to use the words "AND," "OR," and "NOT" or a hyphen ( - ) to narrow down search results.
The following is list of Boolean expressions that may be used for advanced searching:
Type the word AND between two words. This will search for articles that contain both "word1" AND "word2" somewhere on the page. If you type a sequence of words, it is the same as if you had typed AND between each word. Examples:
- word1 AND word2
- word1 AND word2 AND word3
- word1 word2 word3
Type the word OR between two words that you want to search for. This will search for articles that contain either "word1" or "word2," but not both words together on the same page.
- word1 OR word2 Example: Vital records OR Civil registration
- word3 OR word4 Example: Census OR Tax
Hyphen ( - ) is used the same as NOT
Search uses a modified form of boolean algebra that uses the hyphen in place of the operator NOT. As such, use the hyphen ( - ) (with a space preceding it) between two words to search for articles that contain "word1" but do not contain "word2". You can also use a hyphen with spaces on each side between the two words.
word1 - word2 (Example: England - London) and word1 -word2 (Example: England -London) produce the same search result. All pages that contain "England" but do not include "London" will be displayed.
You can control the search with parenthetical expressions by using the parenthesis.
- (word1 AND (word2 OR word3)) Example: (German AND Emigration) OR birth)) This would produce results for pages with content that includes German and Emigration or only birth.
The asterisk and the question mark can be used as wild cards in a search. Use the asterisk in place of one or more characters at the end of a word. Use the question mark to take the place of a single character in a word. Examples:
- birt* This will return articles that contain the words that begin with "birt" such as birth, births or birthday...
- fa?e This will return articles that contain the words face, fame and fate...
Note that you can use more than one "?" in a word. Example: phr??e
Text with double quotes implies a phrase search. Use this type of search when you need to find an article that includes the exact phrase you are looking for. Example:
- "New York City"
- "California birth records"
- "Family History Library"
Mixing Advanced Features
All the Boolean search features can be mixed together for added strength in searching for articles. Examples:
1. (word1 AND (word2 OR "phrase search")) Example: ((German AND (emigration OR "birth") This search will result in pages that contain content about German emigration or German births.
2. ((word1 AND word2) AND NOT word*) Example: ((German AND birt*) AND NOT death) This search will return articles that contain German AND birth, births, etc., but will NOT include articles that also contain the word death. Note: If AND NOT does not work, replace the AND NOT with a hyphen ( - ), with a space on each side of it.