Acumen employs a keyword anywhere search. The word you enter into the search box may be found in any metadata field.

Acumen also treats parts of words as meaningful, so, for example, a search for beauty will retrieve beautiful, based on the shared letters beaut.

Searching with multiple keywords

To search for all keywords, use AND between them.

  • Use this when you want all the keywords but not necessarily together. This is especially helpful for names, which may be in regular or reversed order.
  • Example: robert AND jemison results in entries with jemison, robert as well as robert jemison.

To search for all keywords exactly, put them in quotation marks.

  • Use this if you need to find an exact phrase.
  • Example: “hunting dog” results in just hunting dogs, not entries with both dogs and hunting but in separate places.

To search for any keywords, use OR between them.

  • This is the default if you put in two keywords without anything to link them. It is especially helpful when you want to look for entries that might include two or more related keywords.
  • Example: kitty OR cat results in entries that describe the animal with either of these words

To filter out a keyword, use NOT before it.

  • Results with anything after the NOT will be excluded from the list.
  • Example: mining NOT coal coke results in entries with mining but neither coal nor coke.

Results ranking

Results are ranked based on

  1. Best match of the search keyword
  2. Best match of the most search keywords
  3. Best match of search keyword(s) within particular fields, listed here from highest to lowest priority
    • Title x 4
    • Tag, Transcript x 3.5
    • Subject, Abstract, Description, Creator x 2
    • Date, Collection, Genre, Archivist

Results ranking is not based on proximity of words in multi-word searches.

Advanced/fielded search

Quick limit by format

The easiest way to limit a search is to use the dropdown menu on the left side of the search bar.

Partial screenshot of Acumen format menu

Subsequent searches will retrieve materials only of that format (audio, books, images, manuscripts, etc.). You can switch tabs at any point in the search process to refine your search.

Limit by other fields


To limit a search to a particular field, enter the field and keyword in the search box, in this format: field:keyword.


  • subject:women
  • title:celebrate
  • genre:diaries


For multiple-keyword fielded searching, use quotation marks or parentheses + AND.


  • description:”mining equipment”
  • title:(cotton AND bale)

To search in different fields at once, use AND.


  • title:mansion AND description:snow
  • genre:diaries AND date:1879

Available fields

  • title
  • description
  • abstract
  • creator (use for all types of creators, like photographer, contributor, lyricist, composer, arranger, etc.)
  • date
  • subject (use for topic)
  • genre
  • type


Acumen supports the wildcards ? and *. They can be used anywhere within a keyword except at the beginning.

? = exactly one letter


  • te?t = test or tent
  • te?ttempt or tenent
  • te? = ten or ted
  • te?tech or telephone

* = any number of letters, including none


  • te*t = tet, test, tent, tempt, tenet, teapot
  • test* = test, tests, testing, testimony