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Guide to Search & Refine

Frequently Asked Search Questions

What types of material can I find through a search?

The Dumbarton Oaks Gardens Archives includes correspondence, drawings, historic and contemporary photographs, maps, contemporary art installations, garden videos, and garden area histories. It also contains histories and biographies for individuals and firms associated with the development of the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens or with Robert and Mildred Bliss.

Does a search look for search terms in the actual correspondence document? 

No, a search does not look for entered search terms within an actual correspondence document. When a search is performed, it is matching the search terms entered with terms that have been created for the record's content fields. An explanation of each field can be found in the Guide to the Contents.


How do I initiate a search?

Initiate a search by selecting the Search & Refine tab. Enter a keyword(s) into the General Search box or the Title Keywords search box and press the Enter or return key, or click on the search button. A date search for materials can be done by entering a single date in the Start box or a date range into the Start and End boxes under Limit by Year, followed by pressing the Enter or return key, or by clicking on the search button.

initiate search


What is a General Search?

A General Search is a broad search that retrieves many results. It searches many content fields containing the term(s) entered into the search box. All content fields are defined in the Guide to the Contents.

General Search Screenshot


What is a Title Keyword search?

A Title Keyword search is a limited search that retrieves more specific results. It searches only the title field for term(s) entered into the search box.

title keyword search ss

What is an Accession No. search? 

Each content item has been assigned a unique accession number. An Accession No. search is a very targeted search for the exact character string making up the accession number. To retrieve the desired item, enter the accession number in the search box exactly as it has been assigned, including spaces and punctuation.


accession no. ss

Can I search a phrase?

Search a phrase by placing quotes around the search terms entered into the General Search or Title Keywords search box.


phrase search


Can I perform a Boolean search?

A Boolean search allows for more than one keyword or phrase to be searched using operators to produce more relevant results. Use the Boolean operator AND to narrow a search, and the Boolean operator OR to broaden a search.. A search for fountain AND basin will retrieve results that include both the terms fountain and basin. A search for fountain OR basin will retrieve results that include either the term fountain or the term basin.

Boolean search


How does the Limit by Year function? 

Limit a search of all content to a specific date or date range by entering the year(s) into the search box(es).

Following a General Search or Title Keywords search, use the Limit by Year search box to filter results to a specific year or range of years.


limit by year ss


How do I clear my search?

Clear any search by clicking on the clear button. Individual search terms can be deleted by clicking on the [X] to the left of Current Search term or by deselecting the refinement terms under Refine Search. Simply highlighting and deleting terms in any search box will not clear the search.


clear search


How can I refine my search results?

Refine search results by Name, Garden Area, Material Type, and/or Period after performing a General, Title Keywords, or Limit by Year search. Results can also be sorted by date or alphabetically by title. Once a selection is made, the results will automatically be limited.


refine search


Is it possible to limit search results by more than one name, garden area, or material type?

Limit search results by selecting more than one refinement in a particular category under Refine Search. For example, following a General Search, select drawings and photographs to narrow search results to just those Material Types

Multiple Material Types

In most cases selecting multiple refinements within one category functions as a Boolean OR search and will broaden the results. For example, following a search for benches, results can be limited by more than one garden area such as Arbor Terrace and Fountain Terrace. The search results for benches will be refined for content having the terms Arbor Terrace OR Fountain Terrace in the Garden Area field.

Some garden areas have changed over time leading to a name change as well. For example, the present day Arbor Terrace was previously named Terrace E or E Terrace and sometimes referred to as the Herb Garden. To retrieve all content related to a present day garden area name, select all names under Refine Search referring to the garden area. A list of all garden area names can be found in the Chronology of Garden Names.

benches with AT and FT


The Name refinement uses a drop down menu to the right of the text box to limit search results. If selecting multiple names, the drop down default is set to perform an OR search. For example, selecting Mildred Bliss OR Beatrix Farrand will limit results to those items that have either name appearing in the content record name fields. Refining by Mildred Bliss AND Beatrix Farrand will limit results to those items that have both names appearing in the content record name fields. The AND operator is especially helpful for finding correspondence between two individuals.

two names with OR

two names with AND

Search results can also be refined by choosing a selection(s) from different categories. For example following a General Search, limit results to correspondence about the swimming pool and loggia by selecting Swimming Pool and Loggia under Garden Area and correspondence under Material Type.

material type and garden area 


How can I retrieve all the correspondence in the Dumbarton Oaks Garden Archives Collection?

Results for all correspondence can be retrieved by entering the term “correspondence” into the General Search box. Refine the results by selecting correspondence from the Material Type drop down menu.


all correpondence


How can I retrieve all the garden area histories? 

The garden area histories are titled, “About the …”. All of the histories can be retrieved by entering the term “about the” with quotation marks in the General Search box and then sorting by title (A-Z).


garden histories


How do I view the complete content record?

When a content item is selected from the results a minimal amount of information is initially displayed. To view the complete content item record, click on the “Details” button in the lower left corner.


details button


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