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HSP Research and Resource Guides: Discover Catalog Guides

About HSP's Card Catalog

Discover, HSP’s online catalog, contains records describing printed materials, archival collections, and digital records associated with our collections. It is a researcher’s first port of call for discovery of HSP’s 21 million items.

As a note, the majority of archival materials in Discover are displayed at collection-level, whereas item-level cards can be found digitized through Family Search. Please see the adjacent video or the "HSP Card Catalog Guides." 

Tips for Researching HSP's Collections

Discover Guide Catalog

Get started using the Discover catalog!

Basic Searching 

​Conducting a basic search in Discover allows you to search the catalog using search limiters, such as all fields (default), author, title, author, name, subject, call number, ISBN / ISSN number, and tag (e.g., Philadelphia, marriages, baptisms, etc). This method of searching Discover has the potential to provide you with a broad list of results. Consider the following steps and tips to get you started:

1. Visit HSP’s Discover catalog here

2. Enter your search terms into the search box and choose the search limiter from the drop-down (e.g., all fields, title, author). Click “find” to produce a list of results.

Note: Conducting a search using “All PRPM Fields” will produce results from the Philadelphia Record Photograph Morgue index only. For more information on the PRPM collection click here.


3. If you produce zero or few results at first, try altering your search string to consider all possible variations of one or more terms. For example, when searching for “Philadelphia graveyards,” also try “Philadelphia cemeteries.” This can also be true for the spelling of surnames (e.g., Smith and Smythe).

4. Once you produce results, consider Discover’s additional limiters in the box above the results and on the right-side panel of the interface. Here, you will be able to choose from suggested topics, as well as narrow your results by year of publication, author, format, genre, and more.


5. Another feature of Discover highlights keywords based on the terms entered in your search. These highlights can determine the relevance of a resource anywhere in a catalog record. For instance, if your terms do not appear in the title, they may be found in the summary, subject-headings, record notes, etc. See examples below for a search of “Pennsylvania hotels”:


6. Keep in mind that it can be normal for basic searching to produce numerous results that appear irrelevant, which may seem overwhelming. Therefore, the next section will provide you with how advanced searching can reduce irrelevant records and refine your search from the start.

Advanced Searching

​The benefits of advanced searching in Discover will allow you to refine a search using specific phrases, search language, and limiters from the start of your search. Consider some of the below advanced search options to assist you:

Advanced Search Interface

1. The advanced search interface can be accessed next to the basic search bar on the Discover home page.


2. With the advanced search interface, you can combine, vary, and exclude terms that appear in your search results. Simply click “add a search field” to add multiple terms, select the search limiter you wish to use for each field, and choose whether you would like to match all terms (both), any terms (either/or), or no terms (exclude).


3. NOTE: To exclude certain terms, be sure to click “add a search group” below the default search box, enter the term you wish to exclude in the new search box, and select “NO Terms” from the “match” drop-down box. For instance, if you wish for your results to only include the term “cemeteries” and NOT “graveyards,” it should appear like this:


Boolean Operators

In addition to the advanced search interface, Discover allows you to utilize Boolean Operators, which serve as an alternate and sometimes quicker option to using the advanced search boxes described above. Similarly, Boolean Operators allow you to combine terms to search for ALL, ANY, or NO terms by instead using AND, OR, and NOT in the basic search box.

​1. To search for two similar terms, or terms you wish to appear together in a record, you may use the AND operator. See the examples below:


NOTE: The use of this operator will only produce results for records containing all of the terms combined in the search.

2. If you wish to produce results for records that contain either of the varied terms such as cemeteries and graveyards, you may use the OR operator. See example below:


3.  Discover also allows you to use the AND and OR operators in cases where you must combine terms, but also wish to expand the search to include varied terms. For this type of search, the use of parentheses must be used. Here, the parentheses groups the varied terms together to be combined with one or more single terms. See example below.


4. In cases where the use of varied terms is not desired, you may use the NOT operator. For instance, if a user wishes to only view results for cemeteries only, the search string will appear like this: