The Wellesley Index

Help: Boolean, proximity and truncation searching


To narrow the scope of your search you can use the following special sets of predefined words, called operators, to join together your search terms:

Boolean operators

The Wellesley Index allows you to combine your search terms so you can target your search at more specific areas. For example, from the Search page you can list records in The Wellesley Index which contain the words employment and children.

You combine your search terms using the following special keywords, called Boolean operators:


The AND operator retrieves all records that contain the search terms it separates. However, this type of search normally retrieves fewer results than if you searched for one of the terms on its own.

e.g. employment AND children

If you have entered search terms in more than one search box, The Wellesley Index treats them as if they were combined using the AND operator.

Note that if you want to search for the word 'and' in a phrase, such as 'food and drink', you should type the phrase into the search box and enclose it in double quotes; for example, "food and drink".


The OR operator retrieves all records that contain either or both of the search terms it separates. This type of search retrieves more results than if you searched for one of the terms on its own.

e.g. Army OR Navy

If you select more than one search term from a list, The Wellesley Index automatically combines them in the search box using this operator.


The NOT operator retrieves all records that contain the first search term but not the second.

e.g. emigration NOT Ireland

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Proximity operators

The Wellesley Index not only allows you to search for a particular word or phrase, but also enables you to refine your searches by using two proximity operators to look for words that are close to each other:


The NEAR operator retrieves records that contain one search term within 10 words of the other specified term.

e.g. treaty NEAR Netherlands


FBY retrieves records containing one search term followed by another.

e.g. domestic FBY servants

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Wildcard characters

The Wellesley Index allows you to list documents containing variations on a search term by using the * (asterisk) or ? (question mark) wildcard characters.

Use an asterisk to find variations on a word ending.

e.g. work* finds work, works, working, worker, workman, workmen

Use a question mark in the place of a letter to find variations in spelling.

e.g. wom?n finds woman and women.

Note that you can only use the ? wildcard in the middle of a word.

If you are performing a phrase search, you can only use wildcard operators in the final word in the phrase.

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