History Database User Guide
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.
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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
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
- in an oral history record, this field contains the name of the
person being interviewed
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
- 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
- identifies the organization, government agency, NASA field center
or corporation responsible for the creation of the document
- 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'
number - identifies the unique, software generated number
of this record
number - contains the identifying number of the document as
defined by the originator
- 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.
search pages contain buttons which when clicked will automatically
complete a particular action. The buttons are defined below.
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 - 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
- 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).
(previous) - on pages other than the first, this button displays
the page immediately before the page of the search results currently
- except for the last page, this button displays the page immediately
following the page of the search results currently being viewed
- displays the last page of the search results
- removes all check marks made to the select boxes (to the left
of the Record Number) on the search results page
- opens the help pages for the History Database
Format - displays the records in full format, showing all
of the fields in all records that have been checked
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
Page - moves selected records to a page that can be printed
or copied & pasted to another program (spread sheet, document,
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
- accesses the help pages for the History Database
Format - returns to the search results page for the records
being shown in Full Detail
- New Search
- displays a blank search page
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.
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
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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
- 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.
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
- 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
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
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.
- 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 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
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
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
- 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.
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.
of the materials included in the JSC History Collection
History Collection - Background
regarding the JSC materials housed at the National Archives and
on accessing the materials in the JSC History Collection
Archive Search Index User Guide