Simple search

The BYU Finding Aids Site provides a simple search interface for locating materials relevant to your topic. Entering keywords into the search box on the home page, the system will search for the terms in all indexed fields, including titles, content summaries, subject terms, and material types.

You may return to the search box at any time by clicking on the Search link in the menu at the top-right of the screen.

In order to refine your search using the simple search box, there are a number of operators available:

  • Boolean operators:
    • - is for NOT
    • + is for AND
    • If there is no operator preceding a term, an AND operator is assumed.
    • So, for example, if you were searching for items about Utah, but not including Provo, you could enter the terms:
      Utah -Provo
  • Subexpressions:

    You may divide up your query into segments to be processed separately, each of which should be delimited using parentheses. Multiple subexpressions may be used in a single query.
    So, for example, if you were searching for items about either Provo or Orem, Utah, you could enter the terms:
    (Provo Orem) Utah

  • Wildcards:

    You may truncate a term using an asterisk as a wildcard character. This would allow you to search for all terms will a similar word stem.
    For example, if you were searching for information related to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in addition to searching on the name of the church you might also do a wildcard search on terms beginning with Mormon using the terms:
    This would bring back results using the keywords Mormon, Mormons, Mormonism, Mormonites, etc.

  • Phrase searching:

    The system also allows you to define a set phrase for searching, which will return all items with that phrase in the description. It should be noted that this is a literal search, and will not include phrases with additional or missing words.
    So, for example, if you wanted to find all the records on the Bamberger Railroad Company you could use the terms:
    "Bamberger Railroad"
    However, this search would not include results for records with phrases like “Bamberger Electric Railroad”.

Advanced search

In addition to the simple search box, the system will allow you to search the contents of specific fields within the description. This includes searching on titles, creators, dates, subjects, format of the materials, functions, occupations, call numbers, or collecting areas. Within each search field you may use any of the search operators described above. The Advanced Search also allows you to combine fielded searches using Boolean operators, and to limit your results by hierarchical level within the finding aids.

Researchers also have the options to limit their results to items that have associated digital content. However, we are only beginning the process of linking digitized materials at this time.
The Advanced Search box can be accessed using the menu link at the top-right of the screen, or by clicking on ”Advanced Search“ in the simple search screen.

Search this collection

Once you have found a finding aid of interest, you may also perform a search of the finding aid's contents using the Search this Collection box.

You may use any of the operators described in the Simple Search above, with results limited to the finding aid you are currently exploring.


If you prefer, you may also browse our collections by title, topic, or collecting area. The Browse lists can be accessed using the menu link at the top-right.

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