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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Microfilm: Searching by Keyword

Purpose of this guide is to show how to search for NARA microfilm in our catalog and on the National Archives site.

Keyword Search Options featured on this Page:

Searching by Keyword -- BASIC

If you're interested in a certain topic you can simply type in a word, like Tennessee, then click on Search:

National Archive's Search & Browse NARA's Microfilm Catalog page

 

Basic single word searches, especially common words, may bring up large lists.  In this example 34 records were found that included a variety of topics.

List of items from a keyword search from the National Archive's Search & Browse NARA's Microfilm Catalog page

Searching by Keyword -- REFINED

If you wish to refine your search, the use of AND or OR can be used to narrow your result list.  In this example, AND is used to find documents that have both of these words included in the title.  If OR is used then the search looks for either word.

National Archive's Search & Browse NARA's Microfilm Catalog page

 

By adding AND the results were narrowed down to only 4 results and all included both words in the title.

Searching by Keyword -- SPECIFIC PHRASE

If you are looking for a specific phrase or words that are next to one another, like in this example Project Bluebook, it is best to put quotation marks around the phrase so the search will only look for those words as a specific phrase or grouping of words.

National Archive's Search & Browse NARA's Microfilm Catalog page

List of items from a specific phrase search from the National Archive's Search & Browse NARA's Microfilm Catalog page

Searching by Keyword -- USING *

Often times you may want to search a particular word that may have multiple variations creating different meanings for the same word.  For example, you may want to search for anything that has to do with a person from Texas or with the actual place Texas.  You could type in the search box Texas OR Texan, but that limits to just those to words.  An easier and more efficient way to capture even more variations is to type Texa* which searches for any words that start with Texa regardless of what may come after which means your results would include words like Texas, Texan, Texans, even Texarkana.

National Archive's Search & Browse NARA's Microfilm Catalog page

List of items from a truncated keyword search using * from the National Archive's Search & Browse NARA's Microfilm Catalog page