DoHistoryMartha Ballard's Diary Online site maptech helpabout sitesearch

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This search engine performs a full-text search on the transcription version of Martha Ballard's diary. There is no content mark-up (where ideas and concepts and other words are humanly correlated with individual entries) of the entries.

Some Search Suggestions

Reading related entries helps us to find patterns. Entries can be related by date as well as by word. By reading the entries for December 25, for example, we can see how or if the Ballards celebrated Christmas. Try searching for February 9 to see what pattern you find. Some words, like birth, will retrieve hundreds of entries that you might want to sort again by year or month. Try other searches by date, such as those for holidays, like July 4. Try searching for your own last name.

Searching for Words:

Type the word or words you are looking for in the text search field. Sounds simple, but it isn't. Some of Martha Ballard's spellings, like the word tea/tee were fairly consistent through the years in her diary. Others, like those for the word daughter (daught, daut, daugt, daugl, daughts, daug, daugh, dau, daughtr, daugtr, dauters, dater, dat, datr, dtr, dafter, dafters, daftr, daft, daf), mutated into varied forms. This makes it difficult to search for diary entries that contain all variations on a given word. For some common search terms (such as daughter) we have made efforts to identify all spelling variations and have programmed the search engine to automatically match those variations. However, in most cases, the search engine will not automatically find all the variations on the words you search for. The search results page will inform you of which alternate spellings were searched for, so you can add your own variations on words. By searching for all verb forms and variants on spellings, not just the spellings that we use today, your search will be more successful. For example, if you want to search for "rain", also search for "rained", "raind", "raing", "raining", etc. (be sure to use the "any of these words" option, not "all"). See How to Read 18th-Century British-American Writing and Martha's Spelling and Martha's abbreviations for help in anticipating variations.

You also need to be aware that hard-to-read words in the original handwriting have made transcription of the diary an inexact process. Brackets in some entries, for instance, indicate uncertainty by the transcriber.

Capitalization is ignored by the search engine.

Consecutive terms
You can search for words that appear next to each other in Martha's diary by enclosing the words in quotes, such as "left her cleverly". Please note that this makes the search take much longer. Usually a group of consecutive words in quotes is referred to as a phrase.

Any or All options
When you are searching for more than one word or phrase at the same time, you can specify whether the entries to find should contain Any of the search terms (i.e. at least one term appears in the entry), or All of the search terms (i.e. every term appears in the entry).

Using Exact Spelling
By default (the "Exact Spelling" check box is left unchecked) the search engine will return any spelling matches it knows about (a small number of commonly used search words).

Check the "Exact Spelling" box if you want to search only for the exact word or words as you've entered them in the "Text Search" field. This might be helpful if you remember a particular spelling of a word in an entry you would like to find.


Using Keywords

The keywords represent some general themes that appear in the diary. The keywords are actually predefined text searches. The search results page will reflect all of the words searched for next to "alternate spellings searched for:" You can review the list of keywords and their equivalent text searches.

Note that using a keyword in your search siginificantly increases the time it takes for the search engine to conduct the search; be patient and eventually the results will come.

Using Dates

Specify a date or any part of the date with which you wish to restrict your search. If you specify a month, day and year, the search will search that particular entry. If you specify only parts of the date (e.g. just the month and the year), then the search will search all the dates that match the partial date.

If you specify a date range, only entries that fall between those dates will be found. "Restrict Dates to" and "Restrict by Date Range" can be used together.

If a month is specified, the search results page will reflect it as a number (1=January, 2=February, and so on). If a day of the week is specified, the the search results page will reflect it as a number (1=Sunday, 2=Monday, and so on).

Please note that although Martha wrote practically every single day from January 1, 1785 through May 8, 1812, there are some days which she did not. Those dates will not be displayed in the results, even if they match your specifications.

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