Everything in the Archive is classified as a “item”. There are over 23,000 tems. An item may have many attributes, such as a Title, Classification or Category (e.g., article, card, cue, painting, print), Publication Date, Author, Number of Pages, etc. All items have at least a Title and a Classification, although the Classification may be "Miscellaneous" (e.g., for billiard jigsaw puzzles). Many items also have a “Language” attribute and a “Place Referenced” attribute. If an item has an associated image, you will see a thumbnail of it in your search hits. If you click the thumbnail, you will be taken to a full-size image. If you click the full-size image, you will first see the same image in a reduced size. However, if you click the smaller image, you will be taken to a large, full-resolution version. which you can examine by dragging your mouse.
Hundreds of items have not only an image, but a full-text .pdf version. For example, if you search for “Hoyle”, you will get more than 40 hits. One of them is “American Hoyle, The” from 1874. If you click on its thumbnail and scroll down to “In Archive”, you will see that the physical book itself is not in the Archive, but you can click “Download Full Text” to obtain a searchable .pdf of the whole book.
From the home page, click the magnifying glass icon at the upper right. You will be taken to the item search page.
To get started, type anything you want in the box underneath “Search Results” and press the Enter key on your keyboard. A search will be performed and any item in the Archive associated with your query will be displayed. If you are looking for a specific phrase, put it quotation marks, like “Willie Mosconi”. If you don't use the quotes, you will get eveyrthing a includes "willie", which may not be what you want.
The default order of search hits is alphabetically by the title of the item. You can change the order using the dropdown menu labeled “Sort:”. Note that items for which an image is available will appear before items not having an image.
You may get far more hits than you expect. For example, a search for “Mosconi” yields 849 hits. You can narrow your search in various ways. Start by scrolling below “Refine your search below” on the left side of the search screen. The first choice is “All Items” or “Held by Archive”. The default is “All Items”. You can click the radio button to confine your hits to only items held physically by the Archive.
You can type in four-digit years YYYY or dates in the form DD/MM/YYYY. For example, to narrow your search down to items from 1900 to 1950, you would enter "1900" (without quotation marks) into the left-hand Date box and "1950" (also without quotation marks) in the right-hand Date box. To apply that filter, scroll down to the green FILTER button and click it. Filtering must be requested -- it does not occur automatically.
If you have done a search, you will see a list of Classifications of just the items that were responsive to your search. "Classification" and "Category" are synonynous. Each Classification has a check box to its left. If you want to see just the hits that correspond to one or more Classifications, check them, but you then have to scroll to the FILTER button and click it. If there are more Categories than fit on the screen, click “MORE CATEGORIES >” and you will see a page with a long list of possible categories, subcategories, etc. Check all you want, but this time you do not scroll to FILTER (which will not be on the screen). Instead, you just close the “Classification” window by clicking the X at the top right. This will apply your selections and you don't need to hit a "FILTER" button. Remember this rule: when you check boxes on the search screen, you then scroll to a hit “FILTER”. When you check boxes on a separate screen, you just close that screen by clicking the X at the top right.
There are hundreds of subcategories. For example, if you want to see postcards of billiard rooms in Connecticut, you would go to Card, then Postcard, then Rooms, then Connecticut but check only the “Connecticut” box under “Classification” to see the 4 entries. If you check “Card”, you will get all 4,839 cards in the Archive, which is not what you want. If you check “Postcard” under “Card”, you will get all 2,227 postcards. If you check “Rooms” under “Cards” and “Postcard”, you will get all 255 room postcards.
If you have done a search, you will see a list of Languages of the items that were responsive to your search. Each Lnguage has a check box to its left. If you want to see just the hits in one or more languages, check them, but you then have to scroll to the FILTER button and click it.
These are similar to filtering by language. If an article published in the U.S. were about billiard rooms in France, then “Place Referenced” would be “France” and “Place of Publication” would be “United States”.
Note that to the right of the number of items found is a list of Applied Filters. You can remove any of the filters by clicking the X next to the same of the filter.
You can input queries in foreign languages such as Korean, Japanese, Russian or Chinese by entering them as Unicode strings, which you can easily obtain from Google Translate.
The catalog has been under construction for 40 years and is not always consistient in how items are named. For example, the two searches “Willie Mosconi” and “Mosconi, Willie” (in quotes) do not produce exactly the same results, so you may have to perform both searches to find what you want.
You will also find that capitalization is not completely consistent among items because of the lengthy time period over which the catalog was built. Very slow efforts are underway to make it consistent, but don't hold your breath.
Following is a complete list of possible attributes for an item:
Title (all items have a title)
English Title (If the Title is not in English)
Transliteration (If the Title is not in English)
Keywords (list of words applicable to the item)
Number of pages
Category (Classification) (all items have a Category)
Subcategory (many items have a Subcategory)
Subsubcategory (some items have a Subsubcategory)
Subsubsubcategory (a few items, like postcards of rooms in a particular state) have a Subsubsubcatgeory
Journal (if published in a newspaper, magazine or journal)
Source of gift (name of the donor if the items was a gift to the Archive)
Page reference (page in an article on which the item is found)
Description (textual explanation of what the item is or contains)
In Archive (“Yes” if the physical item is in the Archive, “No” otherwise. "No" means yje otems is held only digitally.)
Publication Day of Week (for newspaper articles)
Edition (e.g., 1st, 2nd, 3rd)
Medium on which the item exists (e.g., lithograph)
Binding (e.g., cloth, paper)
Height/width (for books, only a height measurement in centimeters is given)
Place of Publication (Country)
Place of Publication (State/Province)
Place of Publication (City)
International Standard Book Number (ISBN)
External catalog number (e.g., Library of Congress catalog number)
Location associated with item (Country. For example, if am article in English is about a French billiard room, the Locations country would be France)
Location associated with item (State/Province)
Location associated with item (City)
Signature (if signed or inscribed). "Signature" is also a classification for items that are only personal signatures.
Number (e.g., 10 of 400)
Number of volumes
If you click on “Advanced Search” you will be able to perform Boolean queries using NOT, AND and OR on the following item attributes: Title, Subtitle, Transliteration, Language, Author Info, Signature, Description, Keyword and ISBN. For example, to find articles about Ceulemans in languages other than English, you would first search for “Ceulemans” then click “Advanced Search” and choose “Language” “Not equal” and type “English” (but without the double quotes).
You may have to experiment for a while with Advanced Search to become comfortable with it.