Simply enter the word you wish to find and the search engine will search for every instance of the word in the letters. For example: write. All instances of the use of the word "write" will show up on the results page.
Using an asterisk (*) will increase the odds of finding the results you are seeking. For example: writ*. The search results will display every instance of "writ", "write", "writes", "writer", "writing", etc. More than one wildcard may be used. For example: *ice*. This search will return references to "ice", "mice", "entice", "office", "service", etc. Using a question mark (?) instead of an asterisk (*) will allow you to search for a single character. For example, r?n will find all instances of "ran" and "run", but will not find "rain" or "ruin".
You may use various boolean operators to narrow and broaden your search. The three basic boolean terms are: AND, OR, and NOT.
Using AND will require that all of the listed search terms are present. The search "hatpin AND scratch" will return letters containing both of these terms.
Using OR will broaden your search by indicating that any of the listed terms can be present. The search "Margaret OR Elizabeth" will return letters containing either of these terms.
Using NOT will narrow your search by excluding search terms from results. The search "Jewett NOT Hemingway" will return letters that mention "Jewett" but not "Hemingway".
To combine boolean operators in a single search, use parentheses. The search "Archbishop AND (wine OR whiskey)" will return letters in which "Archbishop" is present alongside either "wine" or "whiskey". Conversely, the search "Archbishop AND wine OR whiskey" will return letters in which both "Archbishop" and "wine", or just "whiskey" are present.
Searches are not case sensitive. For example: cather will come up with the same results as Cather.
Searching for a specific phrase may help narrow down the results. Rather long phrases are no problem. For example: "heed my advice, you'll escape a dinner at the King Edward if possible".
There are two text search type options: Letter Text Only and Letter Text and Identifiers.
By default, references to people, places, and works, as well as misspellings, are searchable by name as "Letter Text and Identifiers." Therefore, if you search McClung you might receive results with letters where she referenced a McClung family member with the words "your father." If you search always, you would receive results where it was spelled "allways" in the original text.
If you want to search ONLY Cather's hand, then select "Letter Text Only." Now searches for don't will not turn up results where Cather spelled the contraction "dont".
Select "Include Annotations" if you would like to search not only one of the above text options, but also any annotations about people, places, locations, and other specific portions of the letters, provided by the Willa Cather Archive staff.
|Entering in only one field||Searches|
|Year, Month, & Day||Single day|
|Year & Month||Whole month|
|Month & Day||1873-#-# to 1947-#-#|
|Month||1873-#-1 to 1947-#-31|
|Day||1873-01-# to 1947-12-#|