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Before you begin

It is important to understand that searching Hagley’s finding aid database is not quite the same as searching with Google or another advanced search engine, even though they do share some of the same features. Use of certain query expansion techniques such as stemming are limited, while others such as spelling correction, synonyms, translations, and autocomplete are generally unavailable. Features such as natural language processing and machine learning are not supported by the finding aid database or other searchable repositories at Hagley. With this in mind, pay careful attention to how queries are entered and be prepared to vary your searches and browse through large result sets. Read the sections below for advice on structuring your search and filtering results. Visit our Search Guide for a complete listing of our online resources. For additional help, contact our reference archivists at

Search phrasing and syntax

  • Searches are not case sensitive.
  • Search for exact phrases by including quotation marks (e.g. "philadelphia railroad").
  • You may add a tilde (~) to exact phrase searches to expand the query to find the terms within a specified number of words of one another (e.g. "dupont employee"~5 will return results where the term 'dupont' occurs within five words of the term 'employee').
  • Phrases without quotations will automatically be ANDed (e.g. philadelphia railroad becomes philadelphia AND railroad). This will return results where both terms appear; however, results where terms appear in close proximity will be ranked higher in the results.
  • Automatic ANDing of search terms can be overridden by expanding the search bar with the + icon and selecting 'OR', or by simply separating terms by typing 'or' between them in the search bar.
  • To exclude terms from the search, select the + icon and select 'NOT' or put a '-' before your term (e.g. dupont -powder returns results for dupont excluding records containing powder)
  • Wildcard symbols ? and * help return a greater number of relevant results by searching for variant spellings and forms of search terms simultaneously.
    • ? replaces a single letter in a search term (e.g. searching bo?t will match boat, boot, bolt, etc).
    • * replaces any number of letters at the end of a search term (e.g. searching machin* will match machine, machninist, machinery, etc).
    • ? and * may not be used as the first character of a word.
    • To use a wildcard in combination with another search term (e.g. wom?n suffrage), use the + icon to create another row and enter each search term in a separate row.

Filtering search results

  • Once your results have been returned, you can use the filter pane on the right side of the page to further limit and customize search results.
  • Use the filter pane to filter by record type, subject, and name.
  • Use the search bar at the top of the filter pane to create additional searches within the search results.

Requesting materials

Physical access to archival collections is limited to the grounds of Hagley Museum and Library. Researchers may access material within the reading rooms of the Library and Soda House buildings. For more information and to plan a visit, please see Researcher Services.

To request material from the archives, click the Request button found in the upper right of collection and archival object pages, send an email to, or use the contact us form link. Be sure to provide the collection title, accession number or identifier, and box number. Materials can also be requested from the library catalog. Please note that we are a non-circulating library. Books and other publications must also be viewed inside the reading rooms.

A large selection of items in the archival collections have been digitized. If material has been digitized, links to files in the Digital Archives may be found within the finding aid. You may also search the Digital Archives.

Glossary of terms and symbols

  • Archives are materials created or received by a person or organization in the conduct of their affairs and preserved because of the enduring value of the information they contain or as evidence of the functions and responsibilities of their creator.
  • Repositories found in this database refer broadly to the collecting departments at Hagley, Audiovisual and Digital Initiatives, Manuscripts and Archives, and Published Collections. All collection material found in this database falls under the stewardship of one of these departments. For more information, visit the Collections Overview.
  • Collections are groups of materials assembled by a person, family, organization, or repository. They can be divided hierarchically into series, subseries, and files. Collection components such as series, subseries, and files are also referred to within the database as archival objects and are accompanied by the icon.
    • Repository membership of collections and component levels of collections are also described within the breadcrumbs found in search results and on collection and archival object pages.
      • Search results collection breadcrumb
      • Collection breadcrumb
  • Finding aids allow users to discover, understand, and access the materials. Finding aids describe the creation, arrangement, content, and context of collections. Most finding aids in this database contain descriptions on collection-level (also known as fonds-level). These descriptions give you the most general overview of the collection or archive. You can find this in the Collection Overview. Some finding aids in this database will also contain a hierarchical structure with more detailed descriptions. Click Finding Aid View to scroll through the inventory. Due to the large size of some collections, the Finding Aid View may take some time to load.
  • Name records are the people, families, and organizations that create collections. In this database, users can view name records to see all of the materials associated with a person, family, or organization, as well as additional information such as related names and suchject.
  • Subject records are topics, places, and genres used to describe the context and content of the materials. On this website, users can view a subject record to see all of the collections relating to that topic, place, or genre.
  • Frequently Used Topics is a page curated by Hagley archivists and reference staff containing links to Name and Subject records that are popular among researchers at Hagley.
  • Use the PDF Finding Aid button to access a fully formatted PDF of a finding aid.
    • Download PDF icon

Still have questions?

If you have questions about archival material, please use the Contact Us button in the upper right corner of the finding aid or send an email to