As a genealogist, sometimes I look for locations as well as the name(s) that I am looking for. Sometimes it is necessary (on a name basis) to search only for a first name or just a last name but some of the time the search feature only allows for a first name *and* a last name. This can prove frustrating. In other cases, there have been times when I have been looking for a reference to a location or event, for example, something like "Blackburn's place" (which is located in Johnson County, TN) and have found it helpful when I was able to search for it. Other times I have been looking for a township section and ranges for land records or estate records, it can prove interesting when you get into the type of description of "by the ford of said creek down the bend of the Smith Road.... Sometimes the archival description will not help the researcher unless there is some other tool to help them find what they are looking for like a map of some kind or a date as you had indicated. But there is the factor that you cannot please everybody. But also on a professional level, I would go to the standard procedure as far as EAD goes. Just my two cents worth...
Mary Collette Newsum
Records File Clerk
Sammamish Plateau Water & Sewer District
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From: E. Naeher [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, November 12, 2002 11:48 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Seaching EAD
> I am beginning to think about how we at Mass. Historical will make our EAD
> files searchable. I've examined the search interfaces of many
> and I've identified three primary approaches (albeit with many
> First, some institutions simply offer keyword/boolean searching. Second,
> some institutions allow researchers to search for names, places, titles,
> subjects, dates, etc, in addition to keyword searching. Finally, some
> enable searching in sections of finding aids, such as in the scope and
> content note or in the biographical/historical note.
> I am curious what goals/factors/ideas/assumptions I should keep in mind as
> begin to move forward developing a search interface. I can see merits to
> all three of the above approaches. What influenced your decisions when
> were setting up your search interface? Does anyone have a keen sense of
> what search options researchers find must useful and/or comprehend most
I am very interested in feedback on this as well. I am currently working on
an EAD search tool in Perl using CGI. What features do users want? My
approach was to allow the user to pick from some preset 'fields'
(Scope/Content, Geogname, Persname, Date, Abstract, Full-Text, etc.) which
corresponded to various elements or sets of elements. Is this granularity
useful or would a keyword search do just as well? I also added the ability
to specify individual years or ranges of years to limit the search (using
the collection-level <unitdate/>)--this slows the program down a bit, and
was a pain to write; is it worth having?
One things I haven't implemented is relevance sorting. Is that necessary?
If so, what factors would influence each matching finding aid's relevance
My search results display each EAD document's title, unitid, origination,
extent, and abstract. No effort is made to necessarily display the portion
of the document where the search terms were found (as, say, Google does).
Is this a bad thing? My thoughts are that the abstract is more revealing
than a mid-finding-aid excerpt, but I'm not entirely certain about this.
(On a semi-related note, if anyone has experience with the Perl XML::XPath
module, please e-mail me.)
Lower Cape Fear Historical Society