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HIST 237: Geographies of Witchcraft and the Occult in Early Modern Europe (HC): Advanced Searching

History 237: Geographies of Witchcraft and the Occult in Early Modern Europe (Hayton) Spring 2017

Advanced Searching Tips

Advanced Searching in Tripod


1.)  Keywords allow you to construct a search that reflects multiple issues in your research question.  Building sets of related concepts and looking for their overlaps gives you more relevant and precise results.  This approach is also called Boolean searching.

Related concepts   (witch* OR devil** OR demon*)      

                                    Tips: Enclose in parentheses

                                               Capitalize the ORs

                                                *  ( Truncate)   Searches root words with all the different endings; politic* = politics, politician, political, etc.

                                                “  “  Enclose phrases in quotation marks, e.g.  “witch hunt*”  to get the words together in that order



        (witch* OR devil* OR demon*) (britain OR england) (gender* OR women* OR woman* OR female*)            

                                      Tips: Add the other related concept groups

                                              Tripod automatically supplies the AND between parentheses so that you see only titles that have at                                                                         least 1 keyword from each of the 3 groups


Results      (witch* OR devil* OR demon*) (britain OR england) [in Keyword] (gender* OR women* OR female*) [in Subject]  = 372 titles in Tripod

                                    Results display automatically in relevancy order with the records having the highest number of keywords appearing first

                                    Sorting for the newest books shows recent scholarship first

                                    Sorting by oldest books is useful for finding primary sources


2.) Subject Headings allow you to find relevant material grouped together including titles that do not use the keywords you may have been searching.


Finding subject headings

                                    Look at a book record in Tripod, check the subjects assigned to it, and choose whatever ones are relevant for your research.

Example: Malevolent nurture: witch-hunting and maternal power in early modern England

by Deborah Willis.  Cornell University Press,  1995.


                                    Shakespeare, William, > 1564-1616 > Knowledge > Occultism.

                                    Witchcraft > England > History.

                                    Witches > England > History.

                                    Mothers > England > Social conditions.

                                    Persecution > England > History.

                                    Witchcraft in literature

            Subject search   witchcraft england history  =  66 results


Refining subject searches

                                    You can combine different concepts into a single subject search for precision.  The results are more focused than a keyword search.                                        But all the words have to be terminology used in library subject cataloging.

                                    To ensure this, you can use subject headings you have already found.  Another option is to browse in the subject headings for                                     more choices.

                                    Combination subject search:

                                           witch*  (britain OR england)  history  =  51 results

                                                Searches witch, witches, and witchcraft

                                                "history" added to eliminate titles about the modern era


3.) Other Databases 

Other databases covering journal articles and primary sources also rely on advanced searching with AND and OR.  Historical Abstracts and Bibliography of British and Irish History work best if you build synonyms together in one box in parentheses, e.g. (trade or smuggl*) and leave the connectors as ANDs.