Tutorials on using card catalog

(I asked a similar question in HistoryHub prior to the upgrades to the card catalog. This was pre-pandemic.)

I will get an answer from an archivist that a "series" has Records or files and can be viewed onlne using the Catalog. My last respnse from HistoryHub suggested I use quotation marks and to type the name of the unit I'm researching. Two questions:

1. Is there a "cheat sheet" of search operators like the quotation marks to help with searches? Or maybe a tutorial on searching NARA? I found a couple of videos on YouTube but they start out with a disclaimer about how confusing and circular research can be in the catalog. Is there a training tutorial for archivists that can be shared with the public?

2. Similar to the search operators, is a question about entering search terms and in my case the names of military units. Do I search for USS TRIGGER, TRIGGER, or SS-564...all are names of the same Navy ship. What about command headquarters? Like COMSUBPAC? Or should I search just SUBPAC?

  • Hello Tom,

    Thank you for your questions about searching the National Archives Catalog.

    Anytime you are in the Catalog, you can always navigate to Catalog Help, found in the top blue bar on every page.

    The Help page has information on how to use the Catalog

    Additionally, links on the left side of this page provide more information about the Catalog.  I suggest you visit Search Tips, which lists different search expression that may be helpful.

    To search ships, we recommend placing the ship name in quotation marks, use USS with no periods - "USS TRIGGER"  You can also search for "SS-564"  As for command headquarters, you may have to try several different combinations.  Please contact the textual reference staff archives2reference@nara.gov if you have questions about these particular records.


    Community Manager, National Archives Catalog