Back to TDA Search Help Topics

Search the Texas Digital Archive

Still need help?

Contact the Reference Desk:

Conducting keyword searches in the Texas Digital Archive (TDA)

You can search the Texas Digital Archive (TDA) using simple keywords or phrases. Enter a keyword into the search box at the top of the page (see Figure 1, below).

screenshot of the TDA with the search box circled in red
Figure 1.

The TDA will search for your keywords within all parts of a digital file including the description of the file, the title of the file, and within the full-text of the file when possible. You may have to review the file description and the entire file to determine if the file is relevant to your research.

See other search methods below.

AND, OR, or NOT (Boolean) Searching

  • If you are looking for materials that have multiple keywords, type AND in capital letters between each keyword. This will narrow your search results to materials that have all terms (see Figure 2, below). For example: “Texas AND Mexico” will show results for materials that have both keywords Texas and Mexico.  It will not include materials that have results for only one of the terms.

search box with the words Texas AND Mexico
Figure 2.

  • Use OR in capital letters to include results that have one term or the other, but not both (see Figure 3, below). For example: “President OR Governor” will have results for either President or Governor.

search box with the words president OR governor
Figure 3.

  • Using NOT in capital letters will exclude results for a keyword. For example: if you wanted results for Houston, but didn’t want results for Sam Houston, you could use NOT to exclude results related to Sam Houston. Searching “Houston NOT Sam” will exclude “Sam” from the search (see Figure 4, below).

search box with the words houston NOT sam
Figure 4.

Please note that this type of searching works best when you only have two keywords, as demonstrated in the example above. If you have additional terms, you may want to use phrase searching instead, for example: Bexar NOT "San Antonio".

Phrase Searching

A phrase search is used to search for a set of words in the exact order they appear. To do a phrase search, type quotation marks around the keyword phrase. For example: searching for the phrase “civil war” will return results for materials that have only that specific keyword phrase (see Figure 5, below).

search box with the words "civil war"
Figure 5.

Once you have completed your search, you may need to refine your results. Learn more about refining search results.

Searching within collections

To search all the collections in the TDA, enter your keyword or phrase into the search bar at the top of the page and click on the "Archive" button (see Figure 6, below).

screenshot of the TDA with a red arrow pointing to the search box
Figure 6.

To conduct a keyword or phrase search within a collection, first navigate to the collection of interest to you. You may do so by browsing descriptive guides or using the Explore Archive feature. Then use the search bar under the collection's description information (see Figures 7 and 8, below). The search button says "folder" instead of "archive" to show you are searching within a narrower scope.

screenshot of the TDA with a red arrow pointing to the search box and the search collection button circled in red
Figure 7. Searching within a "collection".

screenshot of the TDA with a red arrow pointing to the search box
Figure 8. Searching within a "series".

Searching within a collection instead of across the TDA can be a useful strategy to narrow down your search results. For more tips, see refining search results.

Page last modified: April 8, 2020