Choose a Database

Local History


OCPL's Local History / Genealogy Department

Using OCPL' s Online Databases



Return to database index page


To do a search:

  1. Type your search term(s) into the available search boxes. You may use any combination of boxes, searching one at a time, two or more. Note: do not worry about lower and upper case. This is not a case sensitive search engine.
  2. Click the Submit Query button.
  3. Records that meet your criteria are displayed as a report.
  4. To change the way records appear, select a form from the drop-down list.

Finding words and phrases

Type the word you want to find or type a phrase to find those words in that order. Adding an asterisk will find word variations. Drop down boxes at the far left allow for Boolean searching with the words AND, OR, NOT. Use the proximity operators w# (within) and p# (preceding) to find words near each other. See the examples below.

Type this… To find…
sales meeting a phrase (those words, in that order)
jon* jones, jonquil, jonathan (will return all words starting with jon)
John AND Smith all records that have the word JOHN and the word SMITH
John OR Smith only those records that have the word JOHN or the word SMITH but not both terms
John NOT Smith all records with the word JOHN but not the word SMITH
sales p5 market* “sales” preceding “marketing” by 5 words or fewer. You can include an asterisk at the end of either word. Do not string together phrases (roosevelt w5 white house).
sales w5 marketing “sales” within 5 words of “marketing” (before or after). Do not include phrases.


Finding a Date

Dates will only appear in date fields. To find a date, use any acceptable format, including, but not limited to, the examples shown below. Because of the variety of databases included here, experiment with the different date formats.

Dec 31, 2003
2003 Dec
2003 December
Dec 03
December 2003

Do not use a forward slash to separate date elements unless you surround the date with quotation marks (for example, "12/31/2003").

You can do "less than", "greater than", and range searches for dates (see examples below).

Doing "less than", "greater than", and "between" searches

You can search for items greater than or less than a certain value, or within a range. This is most commonly done when searching for dates, but can also be done when searching for values or text. Use the symbols shown below. When used with a partial date, these symbols search from the beginning of the date (first day of the month or year). A range consists of two values, low and high, separated by a colon. Include spaces around the colon.

Symbol Meaning Example
< less than (before) < 2003 finds dates before January 1, 2003
<= less than or equal to
(on or before)
<= 6-15-98 finds dates on or before June 15, 1998
> greater than (after) > 2002 finds dates after December 31, 2001
>= greater than or equal to
(on or after)
>= 500 finds values greater than or equal to 500
: between 1997 : 1998 finds dates from Jan. 1, 1997 through Dec. 31, 1998 (inclusive)
200 : 300 finds values between 200 and 300 (inclusive)



If you are having trouble with a search, some of the most common problems are listed below. If you have tried all these suggestions you can email questions to

If you are getting too many results:

Narrow your search by adding more search terms or dates.
For example:

Searching for JONES may give you hundreds of results, to narrow it down add a first name, or a year, or an initial with an asterisk.

If you're using an asterisk try doing a more exact search.

If you are getting too few results or no results:

Broaden your search by eliminating search terms or dates.

Try using an asterisk to increase spelling variations, especially if you're not sure of the spelling. Be creative.

Examine the contents of the search screen (especially if it is longer than the screen) to verify that you do not have query criteria left over from a previous search.

Remember that no database is comprehensive, or without error. If you believe there is an error or omission and you'd like it corrected, please let us know (however, be prepared to give substantial proof for these corrections, database integrity is of the utmost importance.)