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Searching in SCERA

SCERA is organized in the same way as the SCDAH’s physical holdings. The records are organized into the major groups of Confederate Records, Local Records, Private Records, and State Records. Local records is subdivided into the major groups of County and Municipal Records. Within each of these major groups are individual Record Groups, represented by a unique icon. Within a Record Group are individual Series, which house the electronic records. For an explanation of Records Groups and Series, please see the About Archives page.

To access electronic records, SCERA can be explored by browsing, or through using search terms. When browsing or searching, anytime you wish to see additional descriptive information for that level (Record Group, Series, individual record), clicking on “description” will show what descriptive information is available. Descriptive information may not always be available at the item level, but should always be available at the records set level. For an explanation of Record Groups and Series, please see the About Archives page.


To browse SCERA, simply click on the “browse scera” button on the upper right-hand corner of the web page. This will always take you to top level of SCERA where you will see the major groups of records held by the Archives. From this point, clicking on “open” will take you to individual Record Group within the Major group. After choosing a Record Group, clicking on “open” again, will take you to Series within the Record Group. Opening a Series will reveal what electronic records are held for that Series.


To search, simply click on the search bar at the top of the web page and enter your search terms. If you are already within a Major group, Record Group, Series, or Record level; then you can search just within that level and lower, or all of SCERA.  You can choose from these two options by clicking on the drop-down menu to the right of the search bar. The first choice will always be to search within the contents of your current level, the second will always be for everything in SCERA.

Once the search has been run, the results will show each level of the archive (based on your choice above) that has your specific search terms within its description. The highest level of results will be shown first, and any item level results will be shown last. Clicking on “details” for a hit will lead to the descriptive information available for the result. At the Record Group, Series, and Record levels you will be able to enter that level of the archive. At the item level, you will be able to download the item and may be able to view the item directly in your browser.


If there are too many hits, you can filter your results using the filter options on the left side of the screen. The filter will only be applied to your search if you click on “apply filter,” and it will filter out those items that are not within the items your have checked. When filtering, Collection refers to all Major groups, Record Groups and Series. Record refers to sets of records as received by the SCDAH and put into SCERA. Files refers to single electronic records within a given Record.

Simple Search

A simple search is done by typing one or more words in the search box. These words will not have a particular order within a description or full-text; and the results will include hits for both words, then each word individually. Preference is given to results with all of the search terms. Exact spelling is necessary. If exact spelling is unknown, use a wildcard search.

Boolean Search

A Boolean search is a search using multiple terms that are connected using AND, OR or NOT. In a Boolean search, a connecting AND, OR or NOT must be used between each search term. If using a Boolean search, type an AND in capital letters to require the search to include only results that have both of the terms. Use OR in capital letters to include results that have one term or the other, but not both. Using NOT in capital letters will exclude results with the term on the right of the not.

Phrase Search

A phrase search is used to search a set of words in the exact order they appear. A phrase search is done by typing a multiple word search with a quotation at the beginning and end of the set of words that must appear in order. In a phrase search, no other words can appear between the individual words in the phrase.

Wildcard Search

A wildcard search is used to search a term when you wish to have results include multiple spellings of a term or terms.

??? If you know the word you want but are unsure of the spelling, use a question mark (?) at the exact spot where you are unclear of the spelling. The search results will include all results with all letters available for that single spot. For example, using “speciali?e” could return the results specialise, specialize and specialite. The ? must be used to replace exactly one (1) letter. Using a single ? for multiple unknown letters will not return the correct results.

*** If you want results for multiple versions/derivatives of a term, use a asterisk (*) at the end of term where spelling starts to vary. The results will include all results with the exact spelling up to the asterisk (*), and results with any additional letters after the exact spelling. For example, using “supervisor*” will return results for supervisor, supervisory and supervisoree. An asterisk (*) wildcard can be used in the middle of a term to replace an undefined number of letters.

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