February 18, 2018

Finding Resources: Searching Across the American Memory Collections

Exploring American Memory

American Memory is the online gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. This section of the Library of Congress offers millions of digital items from nearly 150 historical collections.

Tips for Searching the Collections

  • You can locate items in the American Memory collections by using the Browse or Search functions.
    Browse Function
    You can browse collections by topic, time period, source type, or place. To get a glimpse of the variety of information included in American Memory, click the List all collections link, then the Show collection description link.
    Search Function
    You can search all collections, search across selected collections, or search within individual collections.
  • Conduct keyword searches of the collection descriptions by clicking List all collections > Show collection description, then Ctrl/Cmd + F and your keywords (e.g., blues, invent, etc.).
  • Searches in American Memory automatically look for all the keywords you enter; search symbols, such as quotes or the minus sign, are NOT valid.
  • You CAN search with symbols using the custom American Memory search found on the TPS-Barat website.
  • When searching all collections or searching across selected collections, you are ONLY searching text in the bibliographic records.
  • To search across selected collections, you must first browse a set of collections, then select the group of collections you wish to search.
  • To search the full text of items in certain collections, enter your keywords in the Search Full Text box within an individual collection; only some collections have this option.
  • Search by entering one or more keywords but, generally, try to limit yourself to a maximum of 3-5 keywords.
  • Remember to use search terms that are appropriate for the time period.
  • If you can’t find what you are looking for, try alternate keywords.
  • If you still can’t find what you are looking for, you might also try your search from the Library of Congress homepage. 


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