How to Search

Whether you’re new to the PGP or an experienced researcher of our corpus, understanding our search tools will improve your ability to find specific entries, easily browse the PGP corpus, and familiarize yourself with geniza materials. Though you can start by typing in a keyword of interest, sometimes that will bring up too many results to sift through. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can refine the results to get to the information that will most directly help your research.

Search at a Glance

  • You can search using a keyword or a phrase in English or the original language of the document
  • You can search by field, such as shelfmark or PGPID by prepending your search with the field and a colon (e.g. shelfmark:)
  • You can filter by scholarship records and document types to further refine your results

Search Within a Specific Field

If you want to search within a specific field instead of across everything, you can specify a field name using the syntax field:term or field:“search term”.

For example, if you wanted to search for items where Avraham Maimonides is mentioned in the descriptions, you would use description:avraham.

Note: single word terms (e.g. avraham) don’t need to be in quotes, but any term with a space in it (such as “avraham maimonides” or a shelfmark like “T-S 10J12.16”) must be in quotes, or the search function will treat it as an OR search.

You can search the following fields (note that the field names are case sensitive):

  • pgpid – the PGPID is each document’s unique identifier in our database
  • old_pgpids – this is an older version of each document’s unique identifier (relevant for joins or documents that were previously entered multiple times into the database and have since been cleaned)
  • shelfmark – a shelfmark is a locator; indicating where the physical manuscript is held
  • collection – collections, often indicated in shelfmarks, tell us more about where an institution holds the physical item (some libraries have multiple collections)
  • description – the description of each document
  • transcription – transcription means a digital rendering of the document text in the original language (transcription:אברהם will pull all of the documents where someone named Avraham is mentioned in the text)
  • tags – tags are keywords added by our scholars to describe attributes about a document (such as #india or #complaints). Note that our tagging system is inconsistent and incomplete.
  • language_code – this indicates the language of the document (language_code:he will pull up all the Hebrew language documents, ar=Arabic, jrb=Judaeo-Arabic)
  • input_year – this indicates the year the document was added to the PGP

You can combine searching fields with other search syntax, including quotation marks (description:“avraham maimonides”), or Boolean operators (description:“avraham maimonides” AND tag:petition).

Search for an exact phrase

If you want to look for a particular phrase, wrap your search terms in quotation marks..

For example, if you wanted to search for records that reference Avraham Maimonides, son of Moses Maimonides, you could search “avraham maimonides to distinguish him from his father, or “nagid avraham” to distinguish him from other people named Avraham in the database.

You don’t have to use quotation marks for single words, only for phrases.

Combine Terms

Boolean operators are connectors that let you control how your search terms are combined.

The default behavior is OR — to match any term.

  • If you search for avraham maimonides, the search will return all results that contain the words “avraham” or “maimonides”.
  • OR is an inclusive operator, meaning that it returns results containing any of your terms.

Using AND allows you to combine search terms — to match all terms.

  • For example, if you want to find all results for responsa written by Avraham Maimonides, you could search “avraham maimonides” AND responsum.

Using NOT excludes certain results.

  • For example, if you wanted to see all documents written by Avraham Maimonides except for petitions, you could search “avraham maimonides” NOT petition.

Search and Filter Results

With or without a search term, you are now able to filter your search results by types of scholarship records available and document type.

Note that you do have to hit enter on your keyboard or click the magnifying glass for the numbers next to the filters to accurately capture how many documents fall under that category.

The filters are also additive: if you select Has Transcription and hit enter, the filters will update to show how many documents have transcriptions AND translations, descriptions, etc.

If the field is filled in (green on light mode and berry on dark mode) that means that filter is still operating and impacting the number of search results you see.

Search and Sort

The PGP has three main ways to sort the results you get:

  1. Relevance - This should try to give you the most relevant documents for your search term
  2. Scholarship Records (Most/Least) - This will show your results in order of how many scholars have discussed, edited, and translated the document. By filtering for Most-Least, you are more likely to find documents that have been edited and translated into English. Least-Most will help you find documents that have received less scholarly attention. Note that the PGP has not systematically added scholarship records for any category other than editions that appear in our database.
  3. Random - This generates a page of random documents to help you find new and interesting material!