Searching in Hamnet

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Hamnet Basic Search - brief help visible.JPG

This article provides an introduction to Hamnet's search capabilities and some tips for making the most of them. If you have trouble finding what you think should be in Hamnet, please contact HamnetHelp@folger.edu (it might be as simple as us fixing a coding error at our end).

Search help is also available immediately below the search panel in Hamnet, and is context-specific: if you're on the "Basic Search" tab, you'll find tips and field definitions for the Basic Search; if you're on the "Advanced Search" tab, you'll find the Advanced Search equivalents.

Don't forget that on-site help is always immediately available at the Reading Room service desk!

Basic Search tab

The Basic Search tab has thirteen thematically-grouped options, and defaults to the first option: Keyword Anywhere. An asterisk indicates fields that accept search limits (e.g., vault material only, date range, language) using the "Set limits" link below and to the right. Note: you must set limits before entering search terms.

Some searches lead to alphabetical lists, with cross-references (mimicking browsing a card catalog); other searches lead to sortable lists, and do not provide cross-references.

Basic Search tab search options.JPG
Keyword Anywhere - for a sortable list of materials whose records contain any of the terms you entered, unless otherwise indicated: use "quotes" to search phrases, + to mark required terms, * to mark important terms,  ! to mark words to exclude, and ? and % for truncation and wild cards, respectively
Name Browse - for an alphabetical list of names (enter surname first). Includes cross references (click on the big red star to expand)
Author/Creator, Sorted by Title - for an alphabetical list of names-and-titles (enter surname first)
Title (Keyword Phrase) - for a sortable list of materials whose title includes the word or phrase entered
Title (Left-Anchored) - for an alphabetical list of titles (enter start of title, without initial articles)
Journal title (Keyword Phrase) - for a sortable list of journals whose title includes the word or phrase entered
Series/Uniform Title Browse - for an alphabetical list of series titles and standardized titles for works known by multiple titles (enter start of title, without initial articles). Includes cross references (click on the big red star to expand)
Subject & Form/Genre Browse - for an alphabetical list of subjects (what the material is about), forms and genres (what the material is a representative example of) that starts with the word(s) entered. Includes cross references (click on the big red star to expand). Usually drawn from controlled vocabularies.
Form/Genre (Keyword Phrase) - for a sortable list of standardized form/genre terms that include the word or phrase entered, and indicate what the material is a representative example of
Call Number (Left-Anchored) - for a sortable list of materials by call number, optimized for non-Library of Congress style call numbers (punctuation and spacing matter: see Call numbers article for examples). Omit parenthetical suffixes such as (size M), (folio), etc.
Call Number (Browse) - for a sortable list of materials by call number, optimized for Library of Congress style call numbers (punctuation and spacing matter: see Call numbers article for examples). If you are not getting many results, try shortening the call number (e.g., search for "PR2796 .F6" instead of "PR2796 .F6 C2 1924 Sh.Col.")
Publication/Creation Year - for a sortable list of materials by year (only searches machine-readable fields: use yyyy form, with or without wildcards; to search eye-readable dates, use the Advanced Search tab)
Expert Search (use index codes and operators) - for a sortable list of materials retrieved by command-line searching with index codes and Boolean operators ; see Expert Search section below

Advanced Search tab

The Advanced Search tab has three sets of boxes and menus that enable users to build a relatively complex search. Each line has a search box with a drop-down menu immediately to its right, and another drop-down menu at the far right which includes twenty-one search options. The drop-down menus next to the search boxes allow you to specify how the search terms in each box should be treated: "all of these" (search for records that contain all terms), "any of these" (search for records that contain at least one term, but not necessarily all), or "as a phrase" (search for records that contain your terms in the exact order you entered them). Each line can be combined with the "AND," "OR," or "NOT" radio buttons in between them.

Hamnet advanced search.JPG

You can set limits on any of the search options. Since all Advanced Search options are keyword searches, each one will return a list of records matching your search (or indicate that no records match your search).

Use Advanced Search to look for very specific items, or to help narrow down broad searches. For instance, if you are looking for early modern works on medicine, you could combine a subject search for "medicine" with a call number search for "STC," or a form/genre search for "Early works to 1800."

To learn more about the parts of the MARC catalog records that each option searches, refer to the List of keyword search fields in Hamnet and their associated MARC codes.

Keyword Any Bib Field - looks for your search term(s) anywhere in each record
Title - looks for your search term(s) in any title fields in each record
ISBN - looks for your search term(s) in the ISBN field of each record
Name - looks for your search term(s) in any name heading field (not just authors) in each record
Subject - looks for your search term(s) in any subject heading field in each record
Published/Created Date - looks for your search term(s) in any publication/creation/production date field in each record
Publisher/Printer Name - looks for your search term(s) in the publisher/printer/producer field in each record (note that this searches the name as it appears on the item, not necessarily its authorized form)
Folger Copy Notes - looks for your search term(s) in any copy-specific notes in each record
Material Type [GMD] - looks for your search term(s) in the GMD field in any record
ISSN - looks for your search term(s) in the ISSN field of each record
Published/Created Place - looks for your search term(s) in any publication/creation/production location field in each record
All Notes - looks for your search term(s) in any note field in each record
Bibliographic Citation - looks for your search term(s) anywhere in the reference citation field in each record
Series - looks for your search term(s) in any series title field in each record
Physical Description - looks for your search term(s) anywhere in the physical description field in each record
Holdings Record - looks for your search term(s) anywhere in the holdings record (which gives information about the location of the item, its call number, etc.)
Size/Format - looks for your search term(s) anywhere in the size subfield in each record (which may contain measurements such as "22 cm," formats such as "8vo," or both, such as "14 cm (12mo)")
Form/Genre - looks for your search term(s) in any form/genre field in each record
Edition Statement - looks for your search term(s) anywhere in the edition statement field of each record
Exhibition history - looks for your search term(s) anywhere in the exhibition history field of each record

Advanced Search tab defaults

  • The Advanced Search tab opens with the Keyword Any Bib Field search option in all three drop-down menus.
  • Advanced Search defaults to AND searches - the radio buttons for "AND" are automatically selected, and the center drop-down menu opens with "all of these" selected. If you enter multiple keywords in a single search box, it will search for records that contain all of them, not just any of them.

Search limits

The Set Limits option appears in both the Basic and Advanced Search tabs, in the bottom right corner of the main search area. Clicking the link leads to a separate dialogue page. (NOTE: if you have already entered search terms or changed the default settings, navigating to the Set Limits dialogue will erase them.)

Set Limits page.JPG

There are five limits that you can set to help narrow your search. You can select multiple options from each menu by pressing the Crtl key while clicking on them, or select a range of options by pressing the Shift key while clicking.

  • Language - language of an item
    • Note: not all catalog records include a language designation (for instance, graphic materials)
  • Location - location of an item within the Folger
  • Date - enter a specific date, or a range
  • Item type - broad format categories which are similar but not identical to GMDs
  • Place of publication - country where an item was published


Once limits are set in either Basic or Advanced Search tab, they will remain in place for all future searches done within that session. You can get rid of limits by clicking Clear Limits (next to the Set Limits link in the bottom right corner of the main search area), or by leaving your search session (by closing the browser tab or navigating to a different webpage).

Boolean search, wildcards, and other special characters

Boolean search

Boolean search uses "operators" such as "AND," "OR," and "NOT" to narrow or broaden a search. Its concepts are based on Boolean logic.

AND will search for records that contain all terms
OR will search for records that contain any terms
NOT will search for records that do not contain particular terms

You can use Boolean operators in multiple areas of Hamnet:

  • Enter them manually in the Expert Search option of the Basic Search tab
  • Select "AND," "OR," or "NOT" radio buttons to combine search boxes in the Advanced Search tab.
  • Use the relevant drop-down menu in the Advanced Search tab to specify "all of these" (i.e. "AND") or "any of these" (i.e. "OR").

Wildcard characters

Wildcard characters are generally used to account for uncertainty in a search, by substituting for one or more characters. For instance, if you're uncertain whether an item uses "theater" or "theatre," you can search for both by substituting wildcard characters for the er/re. Wildcards can be used with any keyword search in Hamnet, and you can use multiple wildcards in the same search, or even in the same search term.

? will look for an unspecified number of characters. It is most useful when used at the beginning or end of a search term to look for words that include that term.
theat? will return records with either "theatre" or "theater," but also other words such as "theatrical," "theatergoer," etc.
% takes the place of exactly one character. It is more useful for spelling variations, such as the theater/theatre example, or for finding i/j/u/v transcriptions. However, % cannot account for characters that are not there.
theat%% will return records containing "theatre," "theater," or any other words with two characters after "theat," such as "theatrum" or "theatra"
Shak?pe?r% will return records containing a variety of spellings of Shakespeare (using ? to substitute for one or more characters inside the word), but since the last wildcard is %, it will not return "Shaksper."

Special characters

Hamnet keyword searches can also be modified by adding certain punctuation characters.

Quotation marks (") specify an exact word or phrase - i.e., "William Shakespeare"
Use + in front of a word to make sure that all search results include that word
Use * to designate important words - this influences the relevance ranking of results, and will show records with that word at the top of the list
Use ! to exclude a search term

Expert Search

The Expert Search option on the Basic Search tab allows you to combine searches of multiple fields by using their search codes and Boolean operators. The search codes are four-letter abbreviations for the keyword searches available on the Advanced Search tab. Select Expert Search, and type the search code and the term(s) you want to search for. Surround your terms with quotation marks to search for them in a specific order (i.e. "shakespeare william," or "william shakespeare"), and combine multiple searches using Boolean operators AND, OR, or NOT. You can enter search codes and operators in either lowercase or uppercase. You can also nest searches by using parentheses. Each search word needs to be preceded by a distinct search code, and multi-word search terms should be surrounded with quotation marks - Expert Search otherwise treats each word as a generic keyword search.

245h realia not gkey shakespeare - finds records for realia objects that are not directly associated with Shakespeare
NKEY garrick AND (KGNR "legal instruments" OR KGNR "legal documents") - finds records for items associated with David Garrick (or any other Garricks) that have the genre terms "legal instruments" or "legal documents"

Expert Search defaults

  • If you do not enter a search code, Expert Search defaults to a standard keyword search.
  • Note: the search box has a limit of 100 characters.

Related resources