State Historical Museum of Iowa Online Catalog

Tips for Searching

Below are tips for using the various search functions of the online catalog. Searches can be limited to only include results with images by checking the box marked Items with Images Only.

Keyword Search

The Keyword Search button allows you to perform a general search within the catalog. Keyword searches use OR as the default connector between words (e.g. a search for Polk County will return records associated with Polk OR County). If you want to find records where both keywords are found, type in AND between the two words. To search for a specific phrase, be sure to put the phrase within quotes (e.g. "Civil War"). You can also use the asterisk (*) as a wildcard (e.g. a search for histor* would come up with records containing history, histories, historical, etc.). Searches are not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

The Advanced Search button performs a more specific search. You can search for a word or phrase within a particular search category or use multiple categories to further narrow down your search results. If you want to find a specific type of object, enter that information in the Object Name box (e.g. dress, automobile, bowl, etc.). You can make the search more specific by entering other information in the Description box (e.g. wedding, Ford, serving, etc.). If you want to search for a person or family who donated items to the museum, enter their name in the Source box. You can also search People and Creator records through Advanced Search. Phrase searching with quotes and use of wildcards (*) are available in Advanced Search. Records are not currently searchable by Lexicon Category/Sub-Category or Classification.

Random Images

The Random Images button allows you to browse the collection. Each time you click the button a new page of images will be displayed. If something piques your interest, click the thumbnail to view a larger version of the image. To find out more about the object, click the View Catalog Record link below the image.


The Objects button allows you to see all collection items in the object catalog. You can browse the list of objects or use the search function to find more specific items.