Skip to Main Content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

MENA Databases: Archives, Primary Sources, and Documents

An introduction to using databases and other electornic resources for MENA studies research at UIUC.

These databases provide digital version of archival materials, including government documents, personal accounts, field notes, and newspaper articles.

Other Useful Guides



Archives Direct's advanced search interface


Archives Direct's advanced search provides multiple fields for separate search terms. The boolean relationship between search one search term and others is defined by a drop down menu to the right of each field. Each field supports AND, OR, and NOT relationships. These same terms can also be used within search boxes, and are detected whether or not they are lowercase.


The "Word Stemming" option allows you to stem each of your search terms to broaden your search results. For more information on word stemming, see Stanford Natural Language Processing's page on the topic.


Archives Direct allows you to tailor specific search boxes to specific metadata fields. The fields you can choose from are:

  1. Title
  2. Reference
  3. People
  4. Places
  5. Topics

Archives Direct also allows you to filter your entire search by other categories, such as Date, Collection, and Region.



Gale Primary Sources advanced search interface


Gale Primary Sources' advanced search, like Archives Direct, compartmentalizes each search term into its own box, with boolean relationships between terms defined with drop-down menus to the left of each box. Also like Archives Direct, it supports AND, OR, and NOT. These terms are detected, upper- or lowercase, inside individual search boxes.


Beneath the search boxes, there is a check-box which allows you to "Allow variations". Selecting this box will match variant spellings of words or phrases which may appear in historical documents.

Additionally, you can narrow both individual search boxes and the search as a whole by various criteria, though these criteria vary from resource to resource. They will be noted in individual entries below.


Alexander street press advanced search interface

Border and Migration Studies Online has a complex search interface which is difficult to detail fully here. This is a brief gloss of the major features.

The advanced search provides over a dozen categorized boxes which allow you to narrow your search based on keywords or categories of many different types. Some of these categories accept any search terms - others only accept certain specific terms. For those latter categories, a helpful menu is provided to the right of the search box, which is accessed by clicking "Select terms". This menu lets you choose from a list of valid terms.

The results of searches done within Border and Migration Studies Online can also be treated as a group of documents to be searched within. However, your search options for these subsequent searches are more limited, the same as the site's basic search.


Boolean support for this search engine is not documented. However, it does appear to support AND, OR, and NOT keywords (based on testing). It does not appear to be possible to define boolean relationships between different search boxes, so they are assumed to be additive (AND connects each search box's conditions, meaning they all must be met).


Border and Migration Studies Online also allows you to specify your search by a number of other categories that do not have associated search boxes. These are:

  1. Collection
  2. Date
  3. Area of Interest
  4. Format
  5. Language
  6. Content Type
  7. Source Type (primary or secondary)

Finally, you can choose how to sort your search results. You can sort by:

  1. Relevance - more relevant results first (default)
  2. Title - alphabetical sort
  3. Newest first
  4. Oldest first

Useful Links


African Newspapers is a sub-collection of Readex's World Newspaper Archive. When using this database, make sure to only search the African Newspaper collections. To specify this, click the grey box above the advanced search interface that says "Searching [0-5] of 5 databases", and select only those databases you are interested in.

World Newspaper Archive advanced search interface


AND, OR, and NOT are supported both within individual search boxes and between boxes, using drop down menus to the left of each search box. The topmost search box does not have a boolean menu - if it is the only box filled, it must be matched.


Each search box can be made to specifically target a certain metadata field using the drop down menu to the left of the box. The options are:

  1. Full text
  2. Headline
  3. Publication
  4. Date
  5. Citation Text (unclear what kind of citation text this is actually searching)
  6. All text (unclear what the difference between this and Full text is - may include metadata as well)
  7. Place of publication

Additionally, one can narrow their search to a certain date range.

Finally, there are basic sorting options. These are:

  1. Best - more rlevant results appear first
  2. Oldest
  3. Newest