Skip to Main Content

Potomac State College

West Virginia Newspapers: Advanced Searching Tips

A guide to the West Virginia Newspapers portal powered by WVU Potomac State College and information on accessing other WV newspapers.

Introduction to Tutorials

These tutorials will help you better understand how to use our Advantage Community History Archive to find things in the newspaper collection.

To learn how to do basic functions, visit the Navigating the Site page. There you will find more videos and handouts.

To learn how to do more advanced searching, visit the Advanced Search Tips page. There you will find more videos and handouts.

To learn how to handle images you find on the newspaper site, visit the Image Handling Tips page. There you will find more videos and handouts.

Need more help?

  • Call the Library at 304-788-6901
  • Email us at

Advanced Search Tips

Using Advanced Search (11 minutes long)

This tutorial explains how to navigate and use the Advanced Search functions

Search Concepts

Search Concepts (8 minutes long)

This video goes over search concepts: Basic Search, Advanced Search, Keyword Search, and Search on Page.

"Your search criteria is just a sequence of letters that are matched against a search index that was created from the scan and OCR process applied to the subject newspaper page. Knowing how to develop your search criteria is the single most important factor that you can control in getting the search results that you are seeking."

Boolean Search Concepts (4 1/2 minutes long)

 Essentially, Boolean searches provide the ability to combine words and phrases using the operators AND, OR, NOT to refine your search. It allows you to create a much more powerful search string.

Search Tips When Searching For A Person (7 minutes long)

When researching old newspapers, there are many things that you need to know and many mistakes that can be made when drawing conclusions about the articles you find.  Here are some tricks and tips as well as what to avoid when you are searching for a person.

Use Keywords in Search Criteria When Seeking A Person (3 minutes long)

When entering our search criteria in the search box on the Search Portal, we often focus primarily on the name of the target person.  We might also search for a location or an address. or combine these with a name. Here we discuss some additional ways to hone in on target person articles, and this is to use keywords in your search criteria.

Don't Just Search Names (6 minutes long)

Don’t Search Just Names - If you are searching old newspapers to find an ancestor as part of your genealogy research, or you are searching for an event in these newspapers as part of a classroom assignment, or for history research, these tips all apply. Many times, we get stuck in searching just names, but there are excellent alternatives that will help you hone in on articles that apply to your research

Use Hyphenated Search (4 minutes long)

The use of the hyphen in historical newspapers can create challenges (but also opportunities) for researchers. Hyphenated words were often used because of fixed width type as well as the experience and capability of the typesetter. Hyphens are less utilized today but were heavily used years ago.

Change The Letters In Your Search (10 minutes long)

When searching online, you have certainly been puzzled by some of the search results (or lack thereof) that you have received. Creation of newspaper images and application of the OCR process does not always result in what you might expect. There is a simple explanation for these issues, and it all has to do with quality. But by merely changing some of the letters in your search criteria, you can improve your search results.

Use Abbreviations In Your Search (8 minutes long)

In older historic newspapers, abbreviations were used to save space. Abbreviations were used to shorten many words, so searching for an abbreviation as well as the “whole word” will provide you with many more relevant search results