Skip to Main Content

Searching the Archives at FSU

A guide to using ArchivesSpace, FSU's finding aid database.

ArchivesSpace Technical Lead

Profile Photo
Hannah Davis
Special Collections & Archives Research Center
Robert Manning Strozier Library

Research Services & Outreach Coordinator

Searching for Materials

  • Begin a basic search by entering your search terms in the search bar located on the ArchivesSpace homepage. You may limit the search by record type, searchable fields, and date.
    • We recommend keeping Keyword as the searchable type because it searches the entire text.
  • Record types allow you to customize the type of records you want a search to return:
    • All record types: Searches using this will return all records in the database, including names, subjects, series, files, and locations.
    • Collection: Searches using this will only return records of complete collections, rather than names, subjects, series, files, and locations.
  • The searchable fields are:
    • Keyword: Searches the entire text of the finding aid.
    • Title: Searches titles of the materials described, including collection records and the series and files within collections. If you know the precise title of the material you are looking for, searching by title can be very helpful.
    • Creator: Primarily searches the names of the persons, families, and organizations who created the collections. Please note that limiting by “Creator” will primarily search only creators of collections, not individual records or items within collections. Most creators are connected only at the collection level and not at series or file level.
    • Subject: Searches by subject headings assigned to materials by archivists and librarians, e.g. Baseball.
    • Notes: Searches the processing information, which gives insight into who arranged the collection and the various alterations made to the collection.
    • Identifier: Searches by identifier, which is a unique number by which materials are tracked and requested.
  • Searching by date is approximate, and results may fall outside the date span you enter. For example, if you search for records between 1970 and 1990, your results will likely show collections and series with broader date ranges, such as a result with a date span of 1900-1999 since that date range includes the years 1970-1990.
  • You may construct a more complex search by selecting the + icon and adding additional search parameters.

Developing Keyword Searches

Keywords are what we use to search databases, but rarely does a single keyword produce perfect or complete results. Resources may not be described how you expect, and this is why approaching a search with multiple terms will produce the best outcome. 

When formulating keywords, focus on:

  • Identifying the main concepts of your topic or research question
  • Brainstorming synonyms and antonyms
  • Spelling out any words that are abbreviated
  • Avoiding abstract concepts as search terms

Example Search

Research Question: What is the history of the Everglades and how are they a unique ecosystem?

Keywords: Everglades, Florida, swamp, marsh, wetlands, mangroves, ecosystem, flood control, Lake Okeechobee, Florida Bay, cypress, Miami, manatees, alligators, sawgrass, Kissimmee River, biodiversity, coastal prairie, aquifer, environmental restoration

Filtering your Results

After running a search, users can filter the returned results by using the facets on the right hand side of the window. 

  • Filter Results
    • Search Within Results: Filter results by keywords within search results.
    • By Year: Filter results by the year.
  • Additional Filters
    • Repository: filter results by repository.
    • Type: Filter results by record type, including archival record, person, subjects, and organization.
    • Subject: Filter by subject headings assigned to materials by archivists and librarians. This filter only displays the 20 most used subjects in the results.
    • Language: Filter by languages found in the record.
    • Name: Filter by names and organizations. This filter only displays the 20 most used names in the results.
The Florida State University Libraries

© 2022 Florida State University Libraries | 116 Honors Way | Tallahassee, FL 32306 | (850) 644-2706