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Appalachian State University Historical Photographs

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Enter a search term or phrase.

Contact Information

For questions about the ASU Historical Photographs, please contact Pam Mitchem.


Phone: 828.262.7422


Searching The Collection: Keyword Searching

Keyword searching is searching for a specific term in all available indexed fields in a database. This includes all indexed terms like “housing,” “student,” or “university.” Non-indexed words are any terms in fields not indexed (such as file size or dimensions) and stop words. Stop words include any term considered too vague or commonplace to index, and commonly include articles and prepositions such as “and,” “a,” “the,” and “of.”

CONTENTdm provides two primary means of searching by keyword across all fields. A simple search box at the top of all the Digital Collections web pages and an advanced keyword search box allowing the user to search by phrases, exclude words, and search more than one term at a time.

Common Problems:


Because some keywords can be expected to appear in almost every file, for example, “Appalachian,” a basic keyword search is not always the best search option. A search for “dougherty” in the basic search box will retrieve any instance of the term, including in all subject fields, the description field, the source field, and the title field. However, using the Selected Fields search in the Advanced Search Options allows the search to be narrowed down, so that “Dougherty” can be searched as a name only in the Personal Names field or as a building in the Place Names field.

Spelling Errors:

The CONTENTdm search feature does not include a spellchecker to warn users about misspelled words, so the user needs to be aware of other potential spellings. Dougharty, Doughtery, or Daugherty, for example, will not bring up images concerning the B. B. Dougherty Administration Building, Blanford Barnard Dougherty, Dauphin Disco Dougherty, etc. However, in the Advanced Search’s Selected Fields options, the Show Terms link (appears only when the Historical Photograph Collection has been selected for searching in the bottom box) will show all indexed words as they are spelled.

Cross-referencing, Related Terms, Thesauri

The CONTENTdm search feature does not provide cross reference terms, related terms or suggested terms for unsuccessful searches, or other words or phrase suggestions. Particularly for the subject fields, browsing the available terms in the Show Terms link in the Advanced Search’s Selected Fields option will provide a list of all subjects included in the collection. A limited controlled vocabulary has been used to increase the consistency and accuracy of subject terms. This can mean the user is searching for a word that is not in use, either in the subject field or the description.



Project made possible by North Carolina: Preserving Cultural Heritage Online (NCECHO) through funds from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS).