Our Collections / Text Collection

How to Search the Text Collection

The JDC Archives are organized within hierarchical collections. Each collection informs the structure of our archives database. Watch the video tutorial below or scroll down for FAQ-style help and tips for using our text collections online.

For a transcript of this video with screenshots, click here.


What to expect from Advanced Search

Advanced Search will search specific fields for our text collections. Click on the question marks (?) when you want instructions on a field.

Is it possible to search across collections?
Yes, use either Quick Search or the Advanced Search fields: Search all fields, Title, Full-Text, Date and/or Subject Terms.
How do I sort search results into “original order”?

Original order is the sequence or grouping in which documents were originally stored by those who created them, and maintaining the original order preserves the context of their creation. It also provides valuable evidence about the organization and/or person who created the records. To view digital items this way follow these steps:

  1. Open a new “Advanced search”
  2. Copy / paste the folder title of interest into the “In Folder” search field.
  3. 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 original order.
How should I optimize my searches?
Please consult our Finding Aids for more information on the topical areas covered in our collections. This background will help you construct searches.
How do Literal and Fuzzy search options work?
Located next to all search fields, Literal returns results that exactly match the entered search terms. Fuzzy accounts for spelling variations and/or errors. Therefore, selecting fuzzy will broaden your search. For a better result use fuzzy search when using the “Full Text” field.
Can I search the full-text of digitized documents?
Yes, use the Advanced Search field labeled, “Full-Text”.
Is it possible to search within only one collection?
Yes, use the Advanced Search field, “Search in Collection”.


How do I use “Hierarchical Browsing” option?

Hierarchical Browsing is a dynamic way to browse the whole hierarchy of a collection. It functions like a tree or outline view, which allows each item to be expanded to reveal sub-items and collapsed to hide sub-items. Be warned, this feature is slow to load.

How can I see all documents by a specific author?
Once you are in a Document level record, you can see all other documents by the same author by clicking on the “Similar Items” link.
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.
How do I browse the contents contained within a record?
Use the “Look Inside” tab found along the top of all record types to see all items or other records connected to that record or folder.
How do I browse within Sub-collection, Record Group and/or Series records?

Use the “Browse the Collections” window within these record types (on the right side) to link to any level in the hierarchy above your current location.

How do I browse within File/Folder records?

From a file/folder level record, you can browse the contents of a file by either clicking on the “Look Inside” tab, or by clicking on the “Similar Items” link in the “Found In” field. You can also use the “Browse the Collections” window to link to any level in the hierarchy above your current location.

How do I browse within Document records?

From a document level record, you can browse the other documents in the same file/folder by either clicking on the folder title link, or by clicking on the “Similar Items” link within the “In Folder” field.


How do I access and view documents digitally?
Digital documents can be accessed in our database, within Document records (also see the hierarchy diagram). Within these records are links that will download a PDF to your computer.
Can I save searches?
The database does not save searches.
How should I save my research so I can retrieve items at a later date?

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

  1. Choose an item within your search result
    • Find More Options on the left-side menu
    • Then choose Show URL for a permanent URL of the record
  2. 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 Search all fields and your query will retrieve the matching record as the first result with the Item ID in bold
How do I browse the contents contained within a record?

We use embedded metadata, which can tell you who owns the document, the title, and much more (if you have the professional version of most PDF readers). Embedded metadata is helpful since it is information about the image or file that will live within it no matter where that digital asset is stored. Often, this kind of information is lost as when digital items end up being saved quickly with non-descriptive file names or if they are re-purposed on various websites, blogs, and social media sites. The JDC Archives uses Adobe Acrobat to access the embedded metadata, or information about the digital object. If you are using the free version of Adobe Acrobat, you will see the title and author information. Here is how to access it:

  1. Right click and choose the “Document Properties” menu option
  2. In Document Properties’, the “Description” tab will show the title and author
What format should I use to cite the JDC Archives?
Our preferred citation: Repository, Title of Collection, Folder number, Title of item, Date of item. 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, 08/07/1917.
How can I access collections that are not yet digitized?

We welcome researchers. You can Request InformationContact Us or email us at [email protected]. If you are interested in visiting, please Schedule a Visit through our online application.

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.

Where can I learn more about JDC Archives?
Please view About the Archives, in which the FAQ section will address some basic questions regarding JDC Archives.

Organization and Structure

What does the hierarchy look like?

Below is a diagram and example outlining our hierarchy.

How does the hierarchy relate to the JDC Archives database?
The database is made up of records describing items and their location within each collection. Most collections have the following set of record types as the hierarchy: (1) Collection (2) Sub-Collection (3) Record Group (4) Series [if any exist] (5) File/Folder (6) Document.
Can I see where my search result is located within the hierarchy?

Yes, when you select a search result, it will include both a “Browse the Collections” widget, which provides an outline view of the collection and your location within it, and the “Full Reference” field describing your location.


Which text collections are available digitally?

We are continually importing new digitized text collections. Please visit our Finding Aids page for currently available collections. Additionally, if there is a specific question you have regarding our collections, please contact us.

How does the JDC Archives digitize text documents?
We digitize text documents from microfilm reels, which is why our digital images are in black and white. We also digitize at the document level rather than the folder level, so you can access each document individually. We have digitized 2.7 million pages and regularly add to our database as collections are digitized.

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

Dear Visitors,

Every year the JDC Archives is proud to offer free online public programs, research assistance, and access to our digitized archival collections. Dive into 3.9 million pages, 80,000 images, and over 700,000 entries in our Names Index through our website. We need your support to keep these invaluable resources in Jewish history accessible.