Using search on Civil War Petitions

Search using keywords

Civil War Petitions can be searched using keywords which will search all content in Civil War Petitions. Advanced search terms can be used in any keyword search. On search results pages you can refine results using filters.

Search using filters

Search results can be narrowed down using filters. You can refine by result ‘type’ and narrow down your results using filters. Adding many filters all at one time may give you no results, so it may be best to add filters a few at a time. Keyword searches can be used alongside facets to further refine your results.

Saving your search

All searches can be bookmarked using your browser, or you can copy the URL for the search and use the URL to see the same search results at a later date.

Advanced searching

The search on Civil War Petitions uses Lucene Search. We have created an ‘Advanced Search‘ feature page to allow you to develop complex searches.  Alternatively you can do this manually yourself.  Here are some of the common ways to use the advanced features of Lucene search.

Common Lucene syntax


AND, && or +
For example: Jeremiah && Maye will search for documents containing both ‘Jeremiah’ and ‘Maye’.


OR or ||
For example: Jeremiah OR Maye will search for documents containing either ‘Jeremiah’ or ‘Maye’ or both. Because OR is the default conjunction operator, you could also leave it out, such that ‘Jerimiah Maye’ is the equivalent of ‘Jeremiah OR Maye’.


NOT, ! or –
The NOT operator is an exclamation point or the minus sign. For example: ‘Jeremiah !Maye’ will search for documents that have the ‘Jeremiah’ term and/or do not have ‘Maye’.

Exact phrase

Using “” around words will search for the exact set of words in the same order in documents. For example “peticon of Jeremiah Maye” would return documents containing those exact words in that order.

Wild card

Find documents containing the words with the prefix ‘note’, such as ‘notebook’ or ‘notepad’, specify ‘note*’

Fuzzy search

Use the tilde ‘~’ symbol at the end of a single word with an optional parameter, a number between 0 and 2 (default), that specifies the edit distance. For example, ‘blue~’ or ‘blue~1’ would return ‘blue’, ‘blues’, and ‘glue’.