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Dorothea Lange photo from the Great Depression Carl Albert with students Redwood Forest, California Senator Robert S. Kerr in Committee Native American woman with basket Apollo 11 moon landing
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Tutorial: Searching Collections by Topic

You may want to open a second window in your web browser so you can view this tutorial and try the steps below at the same time.


From any page on the Congressional Archives web site, click the "Research Collection" link on the toolbar on the left.
Tutorial Search graphic 1


On the Research Collection page locate the search bar. All of our inventories are indexed by a Google search engine and the process works much the same as a search at Try typing something in, like "Carl Albert" or "NASA," and click "Go" to see what our collections contain about your topic

Tutorail search graphic 2
Important note: The subject terms in our indexes are usually defined using natural language, which means we rely on common words and usage rather than standardized subject headings such as the Library of Congress Subject Headings.


The next page that pops up should look familiar to you if you've used before. This page is a list of links to collection inventory pages that contain the term you searched for. As you might notice, the entries cover both manuscript and photograph collections. Clicking on the main blue links will open a regular inventory page.

Tutorial Search graphic 3

However,clicking on the "Cached" link for a hit will open the page with your search term highlighted on that page each time it appears.

Tutorial Search graphic 4

This is what a highlighted inventory looks like using the cache function:

Tutorial Search graphic 5


Not all hits will be exactly what you're looking for, but when you find one that has potential, jot down the folder number that contains that hit. Folder numbers are represented by the letter "F," such as F 56 in the graphic above. When you have found all the hits on a page, be sure to write down the other information that will be necessary to locate that item in the archives. You need to know these things:

  • Collection Name (example: Robert S. Kerr)
  • Series Name (example: Departmental Series)
  • Box Number
  • Folder Number
Except for folder number, this information is at the top of the inventory page. Below is an example of what that information looks like.
Tutorial Search graphic 6
Important note: The blue "Go to Box 3 " you see is NOT the box number for this page, but a link to the inventory for the preceding box. This can be confusing!


Once you've browsed the inventory for one hit, use your browser's Back button to return to the Google search results page and try the next hit using the same process.
Next, either bring these citations to the archives to look at the material first-hand or contact the archivists to have photocopies sent to you. Our basic fee is $.20/page for copies, plus shipping when applicable. Please refer to our Fees and Use Policy for more information.




Copyright © 2007 Carl Albert Center at the University of Oklahoma
Last Modified 06/19/07
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