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Search Terms

Search terms including Boolean expressions

This dialogue box accepts standard words, like smallpox, for searching on. A search term can also be a quoted phrase. A right-stem wildcard character can be used for words.

The submitted search terms are parsed in different ways depending on the selection of a radio button:

All of the words:
Only return pages which contain all of the words.
Any of the words:
Return pages which contain at least one of the words.
Exact phrase:
Return pages which contain exact matches of the search term, including any special characters such as quotes or hyphens.
Note: This kind of search can be slow because the database does not use a fulltext index for exact phrase matches!
Boolean expression:
Return pages which have matches according to a Boolean expression. The search terms can be combined with the AND or OR operators which limit or extend the scope of hits returned. Parentheses are allowed for sub-expressions to change the normal operator precedences. See examples below for more details.


Find pages containing the words smallpox and Essex:
All of the words: smallpox Essex
Find pages containing words starting with small and containing the word Essex:
All of the words: small* Essex
Find pages containing at least one of the words smallpox or Essex:
Any of the words: smallpox Essex
Find pages containing the word Essex and at least one of the words births or deaths:
Boolean expression: Essex AND (births OR deaths)
Find pages containing the exact phrase "County of Essex":
Exact phrase: County of Essex
Find pages containing the sequence of words "East India Company" and the word Persia:
All of the words: "East India Company" Persia

The only characters allowed in a standard word are letters, digits, the underscore character ("_") and the single apostrophe ("'").

Boolean search terms which contain parentheses, for example Essex AND (births OR deaths) are interpreted differently from the terms that do not, for example Essex AND births OR deaths. The former search term will return pages in which the word Essex and at least one of the words births or deaths appear, while the latter search term will return pages in which the both the words Essex and births or the word deaths appear.

Quoted phrases such as "East India Company" are supported for one of the radio buttons Any of the words, All of the words, or Boolean expression. The parser extracts all the standard words specified in the quoted phrase and then attempts to find all instances containing the exact sequence of the words. White spaces and special characters not belonging to the words are ignored.

No quotes are required for the exact phrase search unless they are part of the phrase itself.

Explanatory remarks:

Each search is a carried out over a wide range of document types which means that the basic result is a single page of information, usually a page of a published census or registrar general's report. However, the whole of an essay or an act of parliament (Legislation) will be returned if a search term is found within it.