Search Tips

Searching for items in DPLA

Type whatever you’re looking for—a subject, a name, a place—into the search box at the top of any page on the DPLA website and either click the magnifying glass to the right or hit return/enter on your keyboard.

How to explore/refine/navigate your search results

DPLA search returns results sorted by relevance. You can change how you see search results in a number of ways:


DPLA lets you refine your search by type, subject, location, date, and language. The menus on the left side of the search results page display all of the types, subjects, locations, dates, and languages among your search results.

You can also filter items by Contributing Institution and by Partner. A Contributing Institution is a library, archive, museum, or other cultural heritage institution that contributes metadata from its digital collections via a Hub to DPLA. A partner organization, or Hub,  provides essential services and content directly to DPLA.


You can view 10, 20, 50, or 100 items per page by selecting your preference from the “Items per page” drop-down menu.

Sort order

By default, DPLA sorts search results by relevance to your search term(s). You can sort alphabetically or by date by choosing a different sort order from the “Sort by” drop-down menu.

How to further narrow your search results

You can change the way you enter your search term to create more specific results.

Exact phrases

You can search for an exact phrase by enclosing it in quotation marks.

“dog shows” returns items with the exact phrase “dog shows”

Boolean operators

You can combine multiple terms using OR and NOT operators.  The default behavior when searching multiple terms is boolean AND.

dog OR cat
dog || cat
returns items with either dog
or cat
dog NOT cat
dog -cat
returns items with dog and without cat


Use an asterisk (*) as a substitute for any collection of characters within a word.

dog* returns items with the words dog, dogs, doggy, dogged, etc.


An item’s title or description may contain another word for your search term. Try synonyms for your search term, and think about more specific or broader words that describe your term

dog Also try: pup, puppy, hound, canine, pet

Combine with Boolean operators to continue refining your search.