Our Collections / Text Collection

How to Search the Text Collection

The JDC Archives are organized within hierarchical collections. The collections are organized by office location (New York, Geneva, etc.) and time span. The arrangement of the collections informs the structure of our archives database .

For a list of collections that are digitally available, please visit our Finding Aids page. If there is a specific question you have regarding our collections, please contact us.


What to expect from Advanced Search

Advanced Search allows for a more in-depth search within specific fields. The following questions apply to using the Advanced Search for the Text Collection. Click on Select Databank Profile (boxed in red below) to choose Text Collection (boxed in green). Hover over the information buttons (circled in blue) for instructions regarding a specific field.

Is it possible to search across the various databanks, such as the Text, Photograph, and Audio/Visual Collections?

Yes, use either Quick Search or the Advanced Search fields: Keyword Search, Title, Full-Text, Date and/or Subject Terms. In Advanced Search, check off the collections you want to include in the “Search In” box on the right. However, your search results are likely to be more accurate and complete if you limit your search to a single databank.

Are finding aids or guides to the collections available?

Yes. Our online Finding Aids provide information on the topical areas covered in our collections. This background will help you construct searches.

Is it possible to search within only one text collection?

Yes, use the Advanced Search field, “Search in Collection.” Select the collection (e.g., New York 1921-1932, Geneva 1945-1954) by clicking on the magnifying glass icon within the search window. Make sure that the search type (the three dots to the right of the search field) is set to Exact.

What are some tips for more successful searches?

Given the volume of material digitized, a search may return hundreds of results. The maximum number of results shown is 500. You may wish to refine your search by adding values to additional search fields (e.g., keyword and a location or date span). You may also find use of the “search type” option helpful. Located to the right of all search fields, these options include Optimal, Exact, Contains the Phrase, and Begins With.

Exact returns results that exactly match the entered search terms. Optimal accounts for spelling variations and terms within titles or other field values. Therefore, selecting Optimal will broaden your search. Contains the phrase is useful for searches on a term that is more than a single word (e.g., health care; displaced persons). For a better result when using the “Full Text” field use Optimal search. See also “Can I use Boolean operators?” below.

My search returned hundreds of results. Can I filter them?

Yes. Results can be filtered by item type (series, file, document, etc.). Select the item type from the menu on the left under “Templates”:

How do I sort search results into the order in which the documents appear in physical form?

Viewing digital items in the order in which they appear in physical form offers context regarding their creation as well as valuable evidence about the organization and/or person who created the documents. To view digital items this way follow these steps once you have identified a folder whose contents you wish to view:

  1. Open a new “Advanced search”
  2. Copy / paste the folder title of interest into the “In Folder” search field.
  3. Set the search type (three dots icon to the right of the In Folder field) to “Exact.”
  4. On the results page, set the “Sorted by” drop-down menu (on the top right) to “Item ID = Asc,” which will organize the results in the same order as their physical counterparts.
Can I search the text within each document (i.e., the full text of digitized documents)?

Yes, use the Advanced Search field labeled “Full Text Search.”

Can I use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) in my search?

Yes. Instead of the words and, or, and not, use the symbols +, |, and -.


This will return search results that include both “education” AND “kindergartens.”

This will return results that include either “education” OR “kindergartens.”

This operator is also useful when searching for personal names that may have spelling variations:

This will return results for people whose last name may be spelled “Schwartz” or “Schwarz.”

This will return results for “education” that do NOT also include “kindergartens.” (Note that there is no space after the minus sign.)

For Boolean searches that include phrases, use parentheses:

This will return results that include either “child care” OR “kindergartens.”


What is “Hierarchical Browsing” and how do I use it?

Located along the top menu bar, Hierarchical Browsing is a dynamic way to browse the whole hierarchy of a specific text collection. It functions like a tree or outline view, which allows each item to be expanded and collapsed to reveal or hide sub-items.

The standard hierarchy of our collections (using the screenshot above as an example) is:

Once you have reached the File level in Hierarchical Browsing, you can click on the title to see more information and go to that record. Once there, you can use the “Look Inside” tab to view the lowest level of our records, the Items (i.e., Documents).

How can I see all documents by a specific author?

Once you are in a Document-level record, you can see other documents by the same author by clicking on the “Similar Items” icon to the right of the author’s name:

Note that authors’ names may occur in variant forms (e.g., full first name, first and middle initials, etc.). It may be necessary to conduct additional searches. To search by author, enter the name in “Surname, Given Name” format in the Keyword Search field.

Can I browse by subject?

Yes, though mainly within File-level records, which include a list of subjects. Clicking on one of the subject terms will get you a list of files that have the same subject. Note that the subject list is not comprehensive. We recommend that you use this field in addition to searching on keywords or full text.

How do I browse within records?

Use the “Look Inside” tab (circled in green below) to access records within (i.e., one level below) the search result. Click on the “Connected to” link (boxed in red) to go up one level in the hierarchy.


How do I access and view documents digitally?

Digital documents can be accessed within Document records. From a search results list, click on the “four arrows” icon within the thumbnail image to view:

Or click on the item title to enter the full record and click on the icon in the thumbnail there.

Can I save searches?

The database does not save searches. We suggest that you keep track of search criteria if you wish to rerun the search in the future.

How should I save my research so I can retrieve items at a later time?

There are two ways to record the location of individual results in a reliable way, so that they can be found later.

  1. Choose an item within your search result and note the Item ID, which is a unique identifier for the record. There are two ways to retrieve the record with the Item ID:
      In Quick Search, input the Item ID number into the Quick Search field and your query will retrieve the matching record as the first result with the Item ID in bold
      In Advanced Search, input the Item ID into the Keyword Search field and your query will retrieve the matching record as the first result with the Item ID in bold
  2. Choose an item within your search result and note the record’s URL:
      Find “More Options” on the left-side menu
      Then choose Show URL for a permanent URL of the record
What format should I use to cite the JDC Archives?

Our preferred citation format is: Repository, Title of Collection, Folder number, Title of item, Date of item,, item [ITEM ID number].
Example: JDC Archives, Records of the New York office of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, 1914-1918, Folder #143.3, Cablegram from Albert Lucas to Ambassador Francis, August 7, 1917,, item 10139.

I am new to archival research: where can I learn the basics?

The Society of American Archivists has published Using Archives: A Guide To Effective Research to address the basics of accessing historic materials in archives.

Have feedback or questions? Please Contact Us or email us at [email protected]