Tips for searching the Loyalist Database

Keyword search strategies help search more effectively.

Keep in Mind

Contemporary language and place names are also to be kept in mind when searching; these reflect the time period created or viewpoint of the creator. This also includes the Collection's catalogue descriptions or summaries of each title which have been written over several decades; it is an ongoing process to update these. An example would be moving away from using the term "slave" to "enslaved."

Most of the titles in The Loyalist Collection catalogue are summaries of content and vary in the detail they include - from very sparse descriptions to lots of detail.

Search Strategies

There are no subject field categories as in the Libraries' catalogue, so options to improve results may include:

1. Try a variety of terms.

2. Check out the Finding Aid fields in potential records to search within for more detailed content, Many collections are arranged chronologically, especially government documents, so looking through a brief period of documents may work fine; but if tracing a topic over time, suggest using an available finding aid. (There are 2 fields - one may contain links to aids found elsewhere on the web; and the other is the Electronic Finding Aid field in which is a pdf finding aid uploaded to the record. They are not searchable when doing a catalogue search; but you may click "Ctrl" and "F" buttons on your keyboard to search within these.) Types of finding aids include an index, document listing, a calendar which includes a summary of each document, or a microfilm shelf list which tells you what volumes or years are on each microfilm reel.

3. Use the "Browse" tab and search by creator (person, family, organisation, government department for example), or by the 5 categories by which the Collection is organised (church, family, military, public or government by place, or special collections). Browsing may help not only to find a list of collections, but show the way records are worded.

4. Boolean searches to search more specifically:

Operator Example  
AND "New York" AND Indians Result must include both words. (If no operator is used, the default is AND.) 
OR "Saint Dominigue" OR Haiti Result may include either words
" " "WO12" Archival Reference Number example will be searched as an exact phrase
* wom* Result will include women and woman


Understanding the catalogue records and using the field labels. The following field labels or sections listed and described below are found in each of the catalogue records.  By using codes as one option, you can search keywords just in those fields or sections of the record in the default search screen. Alternately you could use the Advanced Search option tab.

*Exception - Archival Reference Number: The catalogue has a field or section in each record for an Archival Reference Number, which provides the catalogue reference number from the institution holding the originals of published material we hold. It is suggested generally to use, instead of codes below, the first letter and number grouping, with no space between. Example is wanting to search for a collection you know comes from Britain's National Archives and found in the War Office (WO) department with their reference number WO 12/8741 - better to type "WO12"without the specific volume number; another example is material from Library and Archives Canada MG 23, C6, for more successful search, only type "MG23."

Label: Description: Example of use:
background Background information to provide context to material such as biography or relevant history of a government department to better understand its role and changes in structure background:"refugee camp"
call_number Call number in The Loyalist Collection (HIL-MICL is the location designation for material in The Loyalist Collection found in the Harriet Irving Library, and is written in front of the call number call_number:FC LFR .M5F3P3
category Categories of The Collection: church, family, military, public, or special collections    category:family
contents Description of contents contents:"powers of attorney"
creator Creator of material such as a specific organisation, person, family, government department creator:Miller
database_id ID number in Loyalist Db database_id:531
originals Location of original documents originals:"brome county historical society"
title Words in title  title:papers