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JSC History Collection
History Database User Guide

Database Definition
The History Database comprises records with fields of information that describe a document or an interview located in the History Collection. Searches will not bring up the actual document but only a record describing the document. History documents exist primarily in hard copy and are housed in the University of Houston - Clear Lake (UHCL) archive. Over 60,000 records are indexed on the History Database. They include reports, correspondence, meeting minutes, presentation charts, audio media and more. The records trace the history of human space flight and the NASA Johnson Space Center.

Field Descriptions for Records in the History Database
The fields listing is found in the drop down boxes to the right of the words "in field" on the History search page

  • Author/Interviewer - contains the name of the person that signed the correspondence, authored the document, or conducted the interview. Most frequently only last names are found in this field.
  • Comment - is used for information about the document that is more administrative than subject oriented. Information such as detailed location data; document enclosures; other types of media available, and the like. Other fields ending with an asterisk show more data in the comment field.
  • Date - contains the date the document was created, published or, in the case of interviews, the date the interview was conducted. It is the date on the document itself
  • Document type - is used as a broad way to organize the records into large groups. There are only three groups: Shuttle, oral history and everything else
  • Interviewee - in an oral history record, this field contains the name of the person being interviewed
  • Item format - identifies the type, or format, of the actual document. For example: letter, report, audiotape, CD, etc.. In oral history records, which are indexed by interview and not by item, one format will show up in the item format. An asterisk after that item means more information on available formats exists in the comment field
  • Location - points to the box, shelf or section in which the document will be found. Extended information will be found in the comment field if the number in the location field ends with an asterisk
  • Originator - identifies the organization, government agency, NASA field center or corporation responsible for the creation of the document
  • Program - identifies the space program for which this document was created or about which it speaks. Records in the Center Series and General Reference Series don't speak directly about space programs but rather administrative, facilities or other information that cross program lines. Those records' program designation are 'Center'
  • Record number - identifies the unique, software generated number of this record
  • Report number - contains the identifying number of the document as defined by the originator
  • Title - contains the title of the document, subject of the correspondence or title and subject of the interview. This field contains subject and keyword information and is the most used field in conducting searches. In this field, especially, all possible acronyms are defined in parenthesis in each record. In some cases the author spelled out the acronym in the title and then put the acronym itself in parenthesis. Keywords are added after the title inside double slashes (e.g., // space suit //). In records with a number of subject/title strings, an asterisk divides each string.

Button Definitions
The search pages contain buttons which when clicked will automatically complete a particular action. The buttons are defined below.

Search Page

  • Execute Search - pulls each record from the database that matches your search criteria as you stated it; applies any output organization that you requested; and provides this data on the search results page. This button is found on the top and on the bottom of the search page.
  • Clear Search - clears all fields in the search; returns to the default settings; and deletes or clears all data entry without executing the search. This button appears on the top and bottom of the search page.

Search Results Page(s)

  • First - on pages other than the first, this button brings the search results screen to the first page of results. Note: the number of pages in the search results depends on how many records containing the search criteria are returned as well as the number of records per page requested in the 'Max Page" box (default is 100).
  • Prev (previous) - on pages other than the first, this button displays the page immediately before the page of the search results currently being viewed
  • Next - except for the last page, this button displays the page immediately following the page of the search results currently being viewed
  • Last - displays the last page of the search results
  • Reset - removes all check marks made to the select boxes (to the left of the Record Number) on the search results page
  • Help - opens the help pages for the History Database
  • Full Format - displays the records in full format, showing all of the fields in all records that have been checked
  • Select All - inserts check marks in all 'select' boxes on the search page being viewed (to select only a few records, click on the boxes to the left of the desired records)
  • New Search - brings up a blank search page
  • Download Page - moves selected records to a page that can be printed or copied & pasted to another program (spread sheet, document, etc.)

    All of the above buttons appear on both the top and bottom of each search results page.

  • Top of Page - appears at the bottom of each search results page and brings the top of the search page into view

Full Detail Page

  • Help - accesses the help pages for the History Database
  • Brief Format - returns to the search results page for the records being shown in Full Detail
  • New Search - displays a blank search page

Options Descriptions
The options below are all found on the History search page

  • Max Rows - the default on this option is 100. This means that 100 records will show per search results page. This number may be increased or decreased at any time. For example: if search results come to 106, use the back button on the browser, set the 'Max Rows' to 106, hit 'execute search' again and one page will display all of the search results. If shorter pages are desired, enter any number, down to 1, that must display per page.
  • Oral History - checking the box to the left of 'Oral History Only' chooses only interviews and other oral media to be searched. In these cases, it is usually the 'interviewee' field that is chosen in the search
  • Date Range - this allows limiting the search to a particular timeframe. If a particular year(s) is desired, enter the format as from date 01/01/yyyy to date 12/31/yyyy. To choose a particular month, enter the format as from date mm/01/yyyy to date mm/30/yyyy. In month searches, be sure to end the month on the actual last day of the month. To choose only one day, search on the date field in the field based search (see 'How to Conduct a Search' below).
  • Order Results By - this option allows sorting on search results. Except for the date field, all sorting is done alphanumerically by the first word/number in the field. Sorting is allowed on all fields. In addition, within the 'first by' sort, a second level of sorting may be added. For example, a search may be sorted by author and then, within the author, by date. If documents are to be requested, it is helpful to send the listing of desired documents sorted first by date and then by location, making it easier to pull documents for copying.
  • Output Format - the default option is the standard format which includes record number, report number, date, title, program, location. If documents are to be ordered, output is required in the standard format. However, to search and view only certain fields, choose 'Optional Fields' and then check the fields desired to show in the search results. It is not necessary to check all of the fields since there is a full detail option on the search results that allow viewing of all fields on any or all records desired.

How to Conduct a Search

The Search Screen
This is the first screen to come up when beginning a search.

All of the fields, options and buttons on this page have been described above.

Additionally, at the top of the page, are links to other history-related pages as well as the help page. The body of the search begins after the word "Locate:" under Field Based Search. There are three sets of boxes, two of which are drop down boxes listing all available choices. The box in the center is where search strings are entered. How to use this set of boxes is described below.

Entering Search Criteria
Search terms are entered in the center box of the three sets of boxes under 'Fields.' There are three types of search terms that may be entered: a word, a phrase or a truncated or root word. This database searches character strings and each example just listed is a type of character string. Some pointers:

  • For each search word entered in the middle box, a corresponding field must be chosen from the drop down box. If searching for subject information, for example, choose the title field
  • If searching for more than one word/phrase a connector must be chosen from the drop down box to the left of the search word box (see below, Combining Search Criteria, for more information on connectors)
  • Unless very familiar with the database or the space program, it is best to avoid using strings of words. Combining words may give better results.
  • If searching a name, enter the last name only. Most names in the database are last name only, some include first names and some first initial
  • If searching a word, or acronym, that may appear as part of another word, enter a space on either side of the search word. For example to search EVA (extravehicular activity), if spaces are not added to the word, other words not related to EVA will be found (evaluation, Nevada, retrieval, evaporate, etc.)
  • Also, if searching for an acronym, search both the acronym and the definition (EVA or extravehicular activity) to be sure all records are returned. In most cases the acronyms are defined in the record but if 'extravehicular activity' is in the title, 'EVA' may not be.
  • Truncations may be used if looking for variations of a word (be careful if the truncation is too short, more records may be returned than are required). For example, 'feasib' will return 'feasible' and 'feasibility' but 'fe' will return dozens of words beginning with (feature, fear) or containing 'fe' (effective, transfer, reference)
  • If searching for a person, decide what kind of information is needed about the person. Searching a last name in the author field results in things written by the person, in the title field: things written about this person or in the interviewee field: interviews with this person
  • The report number field is not a reliable field in which to locate a specific report. In many cases, and for various reasons, the report number field is blank. It is better to search keywords in the title field.

Combining Search Criteria
Drop down boxes to the left show connectors available for each search statement. Choices are and, or, and not.

  • Using the 'and' connector means that search results must include both (or all) search words
  • Using the 'or' connector means that the search results must include either one, the other or both search words. It broadens the search
  • Using the 'and not' connector means the search results must contain the first search word but must not contain the second search word.
  • These connectors are applied as they appear; there is no capability of grouping. For example, if entering Apollo and EVA or extravehicular, the results would include everything with 'Apollo' and 'EVA' as well as everything with 'extravehicular,' whether in Apollo or not. Also, it would include extravehicular in 'extravehicular activity' as well as in 'extravehicular mobility unit.' If the search results desired are for EVA's in Apollo, do two searches, one for 'Apollo and EVA' and a second for 'Apollo and extravehicular activity' (or 'Apollo and extravehicular and activity). It is best to use only one connector with two or more search words/phrases per search
  • These connectors may be used within or between fields. For example, if only interested in the Apollo program, enter 'Apo' (truncation) and choose the 'program' field then enter the search string desired in the title field; or the date desired in the date field; or the person's last name in the 'author' field, etc. (not all in the same search, though, unless using the and connector, thus severely limiting results to what a particular person wrote about on what exact date)
  • Alternatively, if not interested in program as much as topic, enter several required words to be found in the title of a document by choosing title as the field to be searched for every word, phrase or truncation entered

Using Display Options
What the display options are can be found above under Options Descriptions. Searches may be conducted using no options and the default options. All of the options on the search page determine how the search results page will look. If choosing particular display options and not liking how the results screen looks, choose the back button on the browser, change the options and hit the 'execute search' button again. Here are some common uses of the available options:

  • If searching on an author, it may be helpful to choose, instead of the standard output (which does not include author), the Optional Fields to include author, title, date and whatever other fields might be of interest to see. The output will be whatever fields are chosen.
  • If the information being searched must only be in a known timeframe, choose the begin and end dates for that timeframe
  • If doing a search in which a date range is chosen, it may be helpful to sort the results by date to have results in chronological order. In this case, choose 'date' from the drop down box to the right of 'First by'
  • If interested that the search criteria be found only in interviews, check the box to the left of 'Oral History Only.' In this case, it may be helpful to choose optional fields 'interviewee,' 'date' of interview, 'title' and 'comment.' The comment field lists in which media the interview is available.
  • If creating a list of search results to be sent to the history office with a request for documents, sort search first by location and then by date. This facilitates pulling documents to be copied
  • If search results are just to be viewed on the computer, it may be helpful to enter in 'Max Rows' 10 or 20 items per page
  • If all results are to be on one page for ease of checking boxes or identifying records needing further action, execute the search and then look to see how many records are found. Use the 'back' button on the browser, change max rows to the number of the actual search results and execute the search again.
  • Any option or search criteria may be changed after the search has been executed by using the 'back' button on the browser, changing the item and executing the search again.

Search Results

Results Page Format

  • If search results are large and 'Max Rows' option on search page was changed to a small number, the search results will display in many pages. The top of the search page will state the status of pages in the format # - # of ### records found. If, for example, Max Rows was set at 10 and 25 records were returned, there will be three pages of returned records: 1-10 of 25; 11-20 of 25; 21-25 of 25
  • Any action buttons chosen from a search results page will only affect the page being currently displayed
  • The first column in the search results will contain the selection (Sel.) boxes. These are used to check (click with cursor over box or click on Select All button) records chosen for further action
  • Action buttons are displayed both at the top and bottom of the page
  • At the very top of the page, in blue, are links to related history and help pages

Options from Results Page
All options on the results page (with the exception of the links on the top of each search page) are chosen with the buttons. All of the buttons found on the search results page are described under 'Button Definitions' above. This section will give some pointers about using those options.

  • Before using either the 'Full Format' or 'Download Page' buttons, records must be selected by placing the cursor over the 'select' box of the record(s) desired and left clicking the mouse. Select boxes are immediately to the left of each record. If all records are to be selected, choose the 'Select All' button which automatically puts a check mark in each select box
  • Choosing Full Format allows the user to view all of the information on the database regarding selected records. This is helpful, since search results formats usually don't allow the complete record to appear and the user is interested in seeing fields not shown in the search results page.
  • The other 'select-required' button is 'Download Page.' The selected records that will appear on the download page can be either printed as is from the download page or the list of records can be copied and pasted into a spreadsheet or document. This is helpful if mailing a request for copies of documents found on the database or to bring when visiting the collection to use as a listing of documents to be viewed.
  • All button actions work only on the page being currently viewed. If several pages of results are returned by the database, the user will have to repeat actions desired on each page. To avoid this, use the back button on the browser and set 'Max Rows' to the number of records returned then execute the search again. All records returned will now be on one page. This one page may be very long and, if printed, may result in multiple pages of print.
  • The first four buttons (First, Previous, Next, Last) are all used to navigate among search results pages. If results appear on one page only, these buttons have no function.
  • The 'Reset' button removes all checks from previously selected records. If only some check marks are to be removed, this may be done manually. Clicking on a box that contains a check mark will remove the check mark also.
  • The 'Help' button launches a window containing several help pages for using the History Database. It will open with information on the page currently being viewed. These pages are a summary of this document.
  • The 'New Search' button brings the user to a blank search page. This is used to begin a totally new search. If the current search just needs some minor adjustments, use the back button on the browser, make the changes necessary and execute the search again.

To Request a Document from the NASA JSC History Collection, contact the JSC History Collection Archivist.

If requesting documents found on the History Database, the minimal amount of information needed to specify a particular document is shown on the standard output format. That is: date, title, program, location and report number for each document requested.

Are You in the Archives?

Description of the materials included in the JSC History Collection

JSC History Collection - Background

Information regarding the JSC materials housed at the National Archives and Records Administration

Information on accessing the materials in the JSC History Collection

History Search Index

Archive Search Index
Archive Search Index User Guide

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Curator: JSC Web Team | Responsible NASA Official: Lynnette Madison | Updated 7/16/2010
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