Search Help

Need Help?

Read this page for tips, tricks and general information about using the Collex interface in MESA.

Searching MESA

Because MESA searches are powered by a faceted browser, short, one-word queries can be more helpful than phrases. Adding new terms, or constraints, allows you to narrow in on the materials most relevant to your research. Initial constraints include title words, roles (author, artist, scribe, etc.), language, as well as four-digit years. It is especially important to note that not all names are associated with roles in the MESA metadata, so in addition to searching for a name in the Role field, you should also search for the name in the Keyword search field (at the very top of the Search page). Once you’ve begun your search, be sure to check the right-hand column for other ways to browse MESA materials:

  • Collections: Archives of primary source materials

  • Projects: Projects developed using source materials. In the future, MESA will provide peer review for those projects that request it.

  • Free Culture: MESA is committed to encouraging and sustaining open-source, open access projects. Add this constraint to peruse freely available content.

  • Format: Browse by physical format

  • Discipline: To enable better browsing, MESA contributors are required to assign at least one discipline to their digital objects from an approved list.

  • Genre: MESA contributors are also required to assign at least one genre to their digital objects from an approved list.

Basic free-form searches provide a search-suggest drop-down menu as you type, showing you possible returns in the index, as well as the number of digital objects in which they are referenced. This allows you to discover alternate spellings or similar terms. If you would like to select one, simply move you cursor down the list, click on it, and it will appear in the search blank.

Searching Date Ranges

Searches may be limited to single years or to any range of years. Single years should be expressed as four-digit numbers, e.g., 1265. Note that dates prior to 1000 AD require an initial zero, e.g., 0900 for 900 AD. Date ranges may be expressed either with the word “TO” or with a hyphen; thus, for example, 0900-1200 or 0900 TO 1200 would each return all records from any year or range of years within that timespan.

Fuzzy Search
Both the keyword search and the title search have a Fuzzy Search option. A lower value on the Fuzzy Search Slider will match more varied spellings. For example, a search on “jerusalem” with the Fuzzy Search set to .5 will also match “ierusalem”. Note that drop-down suggestions do not appear when the Fuzzy Search Slider is set to anything other than 1.

Saved Searches

Although the MESA search interface is available to all users, setting up a free account grants you access to a number of useful options and tools. Saved searches allow you to keep track of your most frequent or relevant searches with one click, or to share them with your peers. And, because we save the constraints you used (not the content of the search itself), your saved searches will be updated with new material every time a new resource is added to MESA. Your saved searches can be found in your personalized My MESA page. To create a new account, click “Create New Account” in the top left of this page.

Sample saved search: “jerusalem”, fuzzy = 7, Latin, 1300-1400

Collecting Objects

When you are signed in to your account, you will have the option to collect items of interest to you. Once collected, you can tag these items, discuss them with others in the forum, and exhibit them in an essay or annotated bibliography of your own.


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