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ROOTSWEB LIST ARCHIVE SEARCHES USING CNIDR'S ISEARCH

    GENERAL

  1. This is NOT a Rootsweb site, NOR is it a CNIDR site, NOR is it an ISearch site. The above logos link to their respective sites. This is an unofficial set of recommendations on how to construct search queries on the Rootsweb archives that use the CNIDR search software. These methods were partly derived from the CNIDR site, partly by trial-and-error, and partly by the suggestions of others.

  2. If you have been here previously, it would be a good idea to hit "reload/refresh" to be sure you are seeing the latest version. It changes very frequently at times.

  3. This has nothing to do with searches, but is that CNIDER "kudzu" logo something special or what? You can almost smell it (imagine grape-flavored Kool-Aid)! You have to be from the Southern U.S. to "appreciate" it. If you aren't, it is on its way to you at the rate of "a foot-a-day", wherever you are!. More about kudzu.

  4. There are three major groups of archives at Rootsweb with which these methods will work (click "back" or "Search help" to return here):
    1. Surname & other mailing lists
    2. ROOTS-L, genealogy newsgroups, GENUKI-L
    3. USGenWeb archives

  5. Searches are case insensitive. You get the identical results with On this page all words "searched for" will be in lower case and all search "operators" will be in upper case, but this is merely a convenience.

  6. Any of the examples which follow using firstname and surname may be adapted to any other phrase, e.g., "elmore co", "alexander city" or "african am".

    SEARCHES IN ALL FIELDS

  7. Unless stated otherwise, all searches will be considered to be made in all fields of each message, i.e., the full message, including From:, Subject:, To:, Date:, Message-body:, and any other field that may occur in some messages (e.g., Cc:, Message-i.d., etc.).

  8. "james robertson"
    with double quotes, will find cases where the name james robertson appears.

  9. william+headen
    (no quotes required) will also find cases where a given name and a surname (or any other two words) appear together, e.g. william headen, similarly to the previous example. [Larry Hedden]

  10. james AND robertson
    will find cases where the names james and the name robertson appear somewhere in the message. It could return a message containing james smith and william robertson

  11. robertson OR roberson
    will find cases where either name appears.

  12. susannah robinson
    with no quotes, is considered to be the same as:
    susannah OR robinson
    If used as the only query criteria on the ROBINSON-L list, it would return all messages in the archive.

  13. Single quotes appear to be ignored.

  14. If you were searching for robertson in ROBINSON-L but knew that you were not interested in any messages from johndoe@tincan.net, you could search for:
    robertson ANDNOT johndoe@tincan.net

  15. If you were searching for messages that contained either robertson or roberson but not both, you could search for:
    robertson XOR roberson

  16. More complicated search criteria require parentheses to make clear what "works together". If you wanted to search for a person whose given name were either mathew or matthew and whose surname was either robertson or robinson, you would search for:
    (mathew OR matthew) AND (robertson OR robinson)

  17. It is possible to build very complex search criteria, but it is usually a good idea (and considerate of other users) to use the simplest one that will get the job done. Some trial-and-error should be expected. In many cases, more than one search criteria can be used to accomplish the same results. It is possible that you can build a perfectly logical search criteria that is beyond the limits of what the program has been configured to perform.

  18. Some searches that work:

  19. Any surname can always be expected to be present in every message in a mailing list bearing its own name. E.g., it does no harm to include ROBERTSON as a part of the criteria for a search on ROBERTSON-L, but that condition will always be met in every message on the list.

  20. Follow-on to the previous: If you are searching on ROBERTSON-L and your only search query were:
    robertson
    you would get all messages in that archive. Not usually a good idea! [Richard Sergeant]

  21. The searches appear to work for whole words only. A search for
    robert
    or
    "robert"
    seems to find robert, but not robertson. This seems to work differently for numbers and/or dates, because
    "1 Nov"
    will return instances of "1 Nov", "11 Nov" and "21 Nov".

  22. An asterisk can be used as a wildcard but only for the rightmost letters of a word. A search for:
    robert*
    would be expected to find either robert, roberts or robertson.

  23. You cannot search for *smith to find blacksmith, goldsmith, or even smith. Nor can you use b*smith. [Joy Fisher].

  24. "ROBERTSON-D Digest V97 #3"
    (with double quotes) will retrieve a single complete digest message. [Diana Flynn].
    Actually, this brings up a "contents" of the digest, but not the messages themselves. [no longer works] This will also retrieve any messages referring to that digest, e.g. "Re: ROBERTSON-D...". See a similar topic in the section on searching specified fields.
    Note: The only places that I have found full digests messages to be retrievable in the new archives is in the handful of [surname]-D lists for whom archiver@lists.rootsweb.com has been subscribed (providing them with their own "thread index" of digests), which might well be discouraged by Rootsweb. The old SmartList archives appear to be working for digests and I succeeded in retrieving one that was inaccessible earlier. Instructions for email digest retrieval by Yvonne Oliver Bowers. [JR]
  25. "10 Dec 1997"
    (including the double quotes) will find all instances for a given day, but for single-digit days like "6 Mar 1997" you will also get pointers to the messages with 16 Mar and 26 Mar; I haven't figured out how to avoid that. [Glenn Randers-Pehrson].

  26. Follow-on to the above:
    "6 Mar 1997" ANDNOT ("16 Mar 1997" OR "26 Mar 1997")
    (all double-quotes required) will return messages with 6 Mar 1997 without including those for 16 Mar 1997 nor those for 26 Mar 1997. Queries limiting the search to the date field are shown below and don't make it any easier. [JR]

    SEARCHES ON SPECIFIED FIELDS

  27. date/Nov
    (without quotes) will return all messages that contain any November date in the date: field for the year searched. [no longer works]

    Note: Since searches on the date field no longer work, the best way to see all messages in a given time frame is to use the old email retrieval methods to retrieve the digests involved. Instructions may be found here or here.

  28. date/"29 Nov 1997"
    (with double quotes) will return all messages that contain 29 Nov 1997 in the date: field. [no longer works] ISearch supports a range of dates, but the email dates do not seem to be in required format for it to work.

  29. date/"6 Mar" ANDNOT (date/"16 Mar" OR date/"26 Mar")
    (double-quotes required), as long as archives are limited to a single year, will return messages showing date: field of 6 Mar without also returning those for 16 Mar and 26 Mar. Nothing less would suffice since hh:mm:ss are also present in this field. [no longer works]

  30. subject/mathew
    (without quotes) will return all messages that contain mathew in the subject: field.

  31. subject/mathew OR subject/matthew
    (without quotes) will return all messages that contain either mathew or matthew in the subject: field.

  32. subject/"william robertson"
    (with double quotes) will return all messages that contain william robertson in the subject: field.

  33. subject/"ROBERTSON-D Digest V97 #3" ANDNOT subject/re:
    will return a "contents listing" for a specific digest and usually nothing else. See note above on where a few full digest messages can be found.

  34. subject/"ROBERTSON-D Digest" ANDNOT subject/re:
    should return a listing of all digests "contents listings' in that archive and usually nothing else. This is useful to learn the latest digest archived, and can be used with any archive year.

  35. from/hilda
    (without quotes) will return all messages that contain hilda in the from: field.

  36. from/"paul jones"
    (with double quotes) will return all messages that contain paul jones in the from: field.

  37. message-body/christopher
    (without quotes) will return all messages that contain christopher in the message-body: field.

  38. message-body/"henrico co"
    (with double quotes) will return all messages that contain henrico co in the message-body: field.

  39. message-body/robertson andnot robertson+co*
    is a good basic format for a common surname (substituting any surname fro robertson in the example. You are likely to be uninterested (1) if the surname does not appear in the body of the messager, or if (2) the reference is only to a county bearing the same name

  40. Retrieving messages by Message-ID: "identifier" [Thanks to Tim Pierce]

    The message identifier is the string of characters BETWEEN the < and the @, as found on the Message-ID line. Be sure that you do not include the < or the @.

    To retrieve a specific message, search for
    message-id/
    followed immediately by the identifier.

    For example, if the message i.d. line were:
    Message-ID: <34EF0747.117D@localline.com>
    the message could be retrieved by searching for:
    message-id/34EF0747.117D

    CONCLUSION

  41. Remember that these field queries can be mixed/matched with other query criteria using AND, OR, ANDNOT and XOR, using parentheses as appropriate.

  42. "Copy" and "Paste" recommended. When you find one of the more complex search commands, it is recommended that you "copy" (using Control-C, or Edit/copy) the example, get into the desired archive search page, then "paste (using Control-V, or Edit/paste) into the query form, then edit it to meet your needs. This is always a good thing to do if you have typed in one of the commands and it doesn't work for you.
    Note: I find it handy to load this page in one copy of my browser and load the archive search page in another, allowing me to switch back and forth as necessary.

  43. You may visit a powerful collection of searches by clicking on "Searches" at the top of this page. You'll see a lot about ROBERTSON and ROB-names since that is who it was made for, but you can search for anything on any of the searches, often using a choice called On-your-own

  44. Contribute your tip or suggest improvements to the above. If something doesn't "work as promised" or if you discover a new and useful trick, share it with us. Send it in.
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