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Using MIT ArchivesSpace: Searching MIT ArchivesSpace

A Web interface for MIT ArchivesSpace, the archives collections management system used by the Libraries' Distinctive Collections and the Aga Khan Documentation Center.

Searching in MIT ArchivesSpace

Use MIT ArchivesSpace to search within archives collection guides and to find digital material.

MIT ArchivesSpace gives you the option to search by keyword, title, creator, subject, descriptive notes, or by identifier (collection number). Knowing the purpose of your search will help you decide how to use ArchivesSpace. Collection records can also be browsed.

If you want to search for a subject across collections, start with broad terms and then review the results before narrowing your search. Also note that terms change over time at MIT, so you may need to try different variations, such as "natural history" as well as "biology" or "foreign students" and "international students."

Note: Most, but not all, collection guides are publicly available. Users may contact Ask Distinctive Collections if you think we may hold a collection but cannot find a collection guide online.

Starting your search

On the MIT ArchivesSpace home page, you will find two options to search collections. Clicking the magnifying glass will bring you to the MIT ArchivesSpace search page. There is also a search box at the bottom of the page.




The default option will search all record types, including:

  • collection records
  • archival records (series, sub-series, file, and item level records)
  • digital objects
  • subjects
  • names


Click on the plus sign + button to add additional search terms.


MIT ArchivesSpace search box


After entering your terms, hit the Search button.


Search tips

Use boolean operators to narrow your searches.

  • Use AND to only find results containing both keywords. Example: Special AND assistant

  • Use OR to return results with containing one or both of the keywords. Example: Special OR assistant

  • MIT ArchivesSpace performs OR searches when multiple keywords are in the the same field. Special assistant will return the same results as special OR assistant.

  • Use NOT to exclude terms from the results. Example: Special NOT assistant

  • Use quotation marks ("") to enclose terms that should be found together. Example: "Special Assistant"

  • Use an asterisk (*) to expand your search. Search for librar* to find words starting with librar, such as library, libraries, librarian, and librarians.

Advanced searching

Narrow your search by limiting the fields searched. The default option will look for keywords throughout all record fields.

Select Limit to collections to refine your search to only include collection-level records or select Limit to digital materials to only include digital records.




Other options include limiting the search to:

  • titles of materials
  • creators of collections or objects
  • notes that further describe collections, objects, or creators
  • identifier the unique number that identifies collections or objects



Add year ranges to restrict the results to a particular time frame. Enter the year as four digits (YYYY).

After entering your terms, hit the Search button.


Note: not all records have associated dates, creators, or descriptive notes.


Viewing and filtering results

On the results page, you can sort results by:

  • relevance (default view)
  • alphabetically by title
  • chronologically by year

Results can be filtered by by record types, subjects, and related names. These filters are listed  in the column to the right of search results. The number to the right of each filter link shows the the number of results in each category.

Use the search box on the right to search within results.



Questions? Comments?

Please contact Ask Distinctive Collections! for help finding collection material and to make appointments to access material.

To suggest corrections or report errors, email us at

We respond to questions Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm.