Search Help


Multi-Database Searching

The search bar above and on the Explore page searches all materials on this website, both in the archival collections database and the family history database.

The following tips and operators apply to this search option.

Wildcard Searches

To perform a single character wildcard search use the ? symbol. For example, to search for "text" or "test" you can use the search:


To perform a multiple character, 0 or more, wildcard search use the * symbol. For example, to search for test, tests or tester, you can use the search:


You can also use the wildcard searches in the middle of a term. e.g.


Note: You cannot use a * or ? symbol as the first character of a search.

Fuzzy Searches

Use the tilde ~ symbol at the end of a Single word Term. For example to search for a term similar in spelling to "roam" use the fuzzy search:


This search will find terms like foam and roam.

An additional parameter can specify the required similarity. The value is between 0 and 1, with a value closer to 1 only terms with a higher similarity will be matched. For example:


The default that is used if the parameter is not given is 0.5.

Proximity Searches

Use the tilde ~ symbol at the end of a Multiple word Term. For example, to search for refugees and canada that are within 10 words apart:

"refugees canada"~10

Range Searches

To perform a range search you can use the { } characters. For example to search for a term that starts with either A, B, or C:

{A TO C}

The same can be done with numeric fields such as the Year:

{2006 TO 2008}

Phrase Searches

Enlose a phrase in quotation marks to search for that exact phrase. For example to search for refugees canada, use:

"refugees canada"

Boosting a Term

To apply more value to a term, you can use the ^ character. For example, you can try the following search:

refugees canada^5

Which will give more value to the term "canada"

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators allow terms to be combined with logic operators. The following operators are allowed: AND, OR, and NOT.

Note: Boolean operators must be ALL CAPS


The AND operator is the default conjunction operator. This means that if there is no Boolean operator between two terms, the AND operator is used. The AND operator matches records where both terms exist anywhere in the field of a record.

To search for records that contain "refugees" and "canada" use the query:

refugees AND canada

or simply

refugees canada

The OR operator links two terms and finds a matching record if either of the terms exist in a record.

To search for documents that contain either "refugees canada" or just "canada" use the query:

"refugees canada" OR canada

The NOT operator excludes records that contain the term after NOT.

To search for documents that contain "refugees" but not "canada" use the query:

refugees NOT canada

Single-Database Searching

The Genealogy database and Archival database may each be searched separately from their respective Advanced Search screens, using different features from the Basic Searching described above. In brief, you may:

  1. Enter search terms into the search box, or in Advanced Search only, click a Browse A-Z Index link for specific fields from which to select, and then click the Submit button.
  2. Records that meet your criteria are displayed as a report.
  3. To change the way records appear or their sort order, select a different form from the drop-down list at the top of your screen.

The following tips and operators apply to these searches:

Searching with words and phrases

  • Type the word you want to find (e.g. immigration) or type a phrase (e.g. immigration records) to find those words in that order.
  • To find variations of words, type an asterisk at the end of one or more word stems (immigra* will return records with words immigration, immigrants, and immigrant).
  • Use the symbols & / ! between words or phrases to represent Boolean AND, OR, NOT. Include a space before and after the symbol.
  • Use the proximity operators w# (within) and p# (preceding) to find words near each other. (e.g. Montreal w4 immigra* will find, within 4 words of each other and in any order, all records that have both the word Montreal and words such as immigration, immigrants, and immigrant).

NB: On some fields, words may be automatically combined with AND and stemmed with an asterisk (*) for you.

Type this… To find…
Jewish labour a phrase (those words, in that order)
unions / strike
either word (or both)
labour & unions
items that contain both words (items that contain just one of the words will be ignored)
labour unions ! labour camps
"labour unions" but not "labour camps"
garment p4 worker* "garment" preceding "worker*" by 4 words or fewer. You can include an asterisk at the end of terms. Do not string together phrases (garment w4 trade union).
garment w4 strike
"garment" within 4 words of "strike" (before or after). Do not include phrases.

Searching with an exact term or phrase

A term is a complete item, with no additional text before or after. To search for a term, precede it with an equal sign (=). For example, =garment workers finds only that complete term; it does not find just "garment" or just "workers" or that phrase embedded in other text).

Using the Inventory Options

This search option is based on the inventories of Fonds/Collection names from both the JPL-A and the CJCCCNA.  The JPL-A and CJCCCNA may have similar collections listed in the inventories.  The actual content of these collections may vary significantly though so it is recommended that researchers look at both repositories' holdings.

The Subject Index is an inventory of all search terms entered into the database validation lists of both the JPL-A and CJCCCNA.  Like the Fonds/Collection inventory, this list will change as new items are added to the database.

Emailing, saving, printing or requesting items from a list

Once you have successfully found relevant records, you can perform several actions to work with those records:

  • Use your browser controls for standard computer functions like printing, etc.
  • Use the Share button and its options to share the record(s) or images in your e-mail or on social networking sites.
  • Click the Select button on as many records as you wish.  Once the records are selected, you can view those selections by clicking on View Selections in the blue bar at the top of the screen.
  • From the Selection list, you can choose to view the full or brief report of your records in order to save it to a location of your choice, e-mail or print the reports or submit a request to access the records.

Fee structure for copying requests

Please see our pricing information page for details.

Glossary of terms relating to Jewish holidays and ceremonial art

The attached document contains an illustrated list of many of the Jewish terms used on this website, especially in connection with the artifacts collection. ( PDF document,830K)

Troubleshooting and FAQ

If you are having trouble with a search, some of the most common problems and potential solutions are listed below.

I got the message "Unable to recognize as a correctly formed query."

The program cannot understand the search criteria. Possible problems include:

  • Typographical errors
  • Mismatched quotes or parentheses (e.g. typing Israel" instead of "Israel")
  • Extra Boolean search symbols (e.g. typing labour / maternity / instead of labour / maternity )
  • Missing quotation marks around symbols that can be misinterpreted. For example, search for "".

If none of these apply, try a simple one-word search. To remedy difficulties you may also consider using the A-Z Browse Index in the Advanced Search screen. If this does not work either, please contact us.

I found too many records.

Click the Revise Search link to return to the search screen with your search terms visible, and then try one of the following changes to find fewer results.

  • If you used an asterisk, omit it and try an exact term or phrase search instead. For example, search for =internee camp instead of intern*. (Note that in many fields the stemming of search terms with the asterisk is automatic.)
  • Try using a Boolean symbol (& / !) between words to construct more precise queries. For example, to find articles about musicians, not theatre, search for fiddler ! roof.
  • If you are searching for a date, do not use a forward slash between date components (for example, search for 12-12-98) or surround the date with quotation marks ("12/12/98").

I did not find any records.

Click the Revise Search link to return to the search screen with your search terms visible, then try one of the following changes.

  • Examine the contents of the search form (especially if it is longer than the screen) to verify that you do not have query criteria left over from a previous search.
  • If you are not sure of the spelling, use an asterisk after the first few characters (for example, labo*) or separate several possible spellings with a forward slash (for example, search for labor / labour). (Note that many fields have the asterisk automatically appended to all search terms already).
  • If you did a complex search, try simplifying it to eliminate confusion. If the search form has Browse Index links, use them to view and paste items to search for.
  • If you are searching for a URL, try typing it all in lower case.
  • If you are trying to find records that contain multiple words anywhere in the record, separate the words with Boolean symbols (& / !). Otherwise, you are doing a phrase search, which finds these words in that order.
  • If your search includes Boolean symbols (/ & !) or range searches (:), put spaces around the symbols.
  • Do not use words (and, or, not) for Boolean operators. You must use the Boolean symbols (& / !).
  • Try using / instead of & between words. Using / means either word can be present (henry / hirsch finds Henry or Hirsch). Using & means both words must be present (henry & hirsch will not find just "Henry" or just "Hirsch").

When I try to display records or change forms, I get the message, "Your current query has expired. Perform the search again."

The query set file that stored your search results has expired, so you will have to do your search again. If this message occurs frequently, please contact us.

What is a fonds? A series? A subseries?

  • A "fonds" is an archival term that refers to a collection of material created by a person or institution.  A "collection" is literally a collection of material not necessarily brought together by a single person or institution.  Both terms are used in Canadian archives.
  • Series and/or subseries help to organize archival fonds or collections in a meaningful way so that specific subject matter or types of material (e.g. photographs) can be found easily.  A single fonds or collection can be made up of several series and subseries.

Why can't I download digital copies of the records I found?

The Canadian Jewish Heritage Network is a database and while it does contain some made-digital archival material, the bulk of the archives must be requested directly from the repository.  Check back often as new digitized material will continue to be added regularly.  If the material you wish to see is not yet available in a digital format, contact the repositories directly to discuss how we can help you access this material as easily as possible.

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