Trinity Western University

Searching Guidelines

Getting Started: Basic Search

To use the basic default search, type names or keywords into the search box provided at the top left of the Search page (screenshot below), then press Enter/Return or click the magnifying glass icon beside the box to submit the search term(s).

Basic Search Form

For more information about any record displayed in the search results, click the blue title link at the top of a match; e.g.

Link to view result detail

Narrow or broaden a search by using Boolean Operators (e.g. AND, OR) as explained back on the main Search page in the "Search Tips" section.

Not enough results?

    1. Double-check your spelling.
    2. If you have used the singular form of a noun (e.g. Statute), try the plural form (i.e. Statutes), or vice versa.
    3. For names of people, try using the family name only.

A list of useful subject terms used to describe archival photographs can be found here.

Advanced Search

For more search options, use the Advanced search. To access this feature from the search results screen, click the "Advanced search options" link displayed between the default search box and the results section:

Expand Advanced search options

Alternately, click in the basic search box and then click the "Advanced search" link that appears directly below the search box (link here will disappear once a search term is entered that generates auto-complete suggestions):

Access Advanced search from basic search box

The Advanced search options allow the researcher to refine or filter results by:

Further explanation of the search options is provided in the Using the Advanced Search Form section that follows.

Once criteria in the advanced search form have been set, press Enter/Return or click the blue "Search" button at the bottom of the form (is active though appears greyed out):

Search button

Not enough results?

    1. See suggestions in the Basic Search section above.
    2. Use fewer - or broader - terms, or return the field selection to its "Any field" default.
    3. Remove a search criterion by clicking the "x" at the far right, beside the Field drop-down for that item.

Too many results?

    1. Apply a filter, or use the "Add new criteria" button to search on multiple fields at once.
    2. Use "quotation marks" to search for an exact phrase.

Using the Advanced Search Form

The advanced search options are organized into four sections:

1. Fields

Fields section of advanced search

The options listed in the "Any field" drop-down menu allow researchers to search the following specific sections or elements of an archival description:

2. Top-level description

Top-level description section of advanced search

This filter allows researchers to search within a specific fonds or collection. Type the name of an office or department (e.g. President's Office or Library) in this box to see if the TWU Archives holds a fonds or collection from that department:

Top-level matches in advanced search

Note: the auto-complete list displays a maximum of 10 matches and cannot be scrolled.

3. Search Filters

Filters section of advanced search form

Further filters allow the researcher to refine a search using any of the following parameters.

Level of Description

The "Level of description" filter allows search results returned to be limited to one of the following options, representing levels at which archival records are described or catalogued:

When the "Top-level descriptions" option at the bottom of this section is chosen, the results returned will be limited to listing collections and/or fonds that have sub-material matching the search criteria.

When the "All descriptions" option at the bottom of this section is chosen, the results returned include matches for all Levels of Description.

Digital Object Available

The "Digital object available" filter allows the researcher to limit results to those with a digital object (eg. scanned photographs, digitized sound recordings, or scanned PDF copies of paper records) attached, or to limit results to record descriptions with no such objects attached, by selecting "yes" or "no" from the drop-down menu.

Note, however, that if a record is linked to more than one digital object, this limiter may not work properly. (This is particularly problematic for audio recordings, which often have more than one digitized sound file attached, as well as PDF copies of transcripts.)

Digital collections can also be accessed via the "Digital objects" link in the Browse menu beside the basic search box:

Browse button

Copyright Status

This filter links to a field rarely used by the TWUA. Please contact archival staff if you have questions about using archival materials, or if you wish to copy records for a purpose other than research or private study.

General Material Designation

The GMD filter allows a search to be limited to one of the following record formats:

4. Dates

Dates section of advanced search form

Results can be restricted according to their year(s) of creation. Though records are generally described only by the year of creation, full dates are required in the search. Here are some examples illustrating use of the Start and End dates.

It is also important to note that descriptions often encompass a date range rather than a single year. Using the "Overlapping" option will return results with any year completely covered within the date filter(s) applied, whereas using the "Exact" option will limit results to those whose full range fits with the date filter(s) entered.

Note that some records do NOT include a creation date and thus will be excluded when any date filters are applied.

Accessing Archival Materials

To access records that are not available in digital form via the online database (i.e. the majority of paper records), please make an appointment to visit the TWU Archives in person.


* A list of helpful search keywords used to describe archival photographs can be found here.