Search features

By default, all of your given terms have to appear in the ship name or citations on that ship page. This means that your terms won't always be in the results listed, but are indeed present on the ship's page, in the text of one or more of the citations.

There are a number of different things you can do with the query. Here are a few examples:

  • Match all of your terms: This is the default behavior. All your terms must be present in either the ship name or one of its citations. For example: Mary & Elizabeth
  • Match any of your terms: You can perform a search that matches either of your terms by using the | symbol, such as Mary | Elizabeth
  • Exclude terms from results: If you want to make sure a term does not match, you can use an exclamation point, as in Mary Elizabeth !Jane
  • More complex searching using grouping: You can create complex queries by grouping terms with parenthesis. (Mary | Elizabeth) & Queen
  • Phrase matching: Rather than just matching single words, you can match phrases using quotes. "Queen Mary"
  • Wildcard matching: Use an asterisk for wildcard searching. Note that you need at least three sequential literal characters – you can't just search for "*". "Eliza*"
  • Limit searching to just the ship name (exclude citation matches): Quite often terms will match something in one of the citations, but if you don't want those matches returned, you can specify to perform the search just over the ship name by using "@ship_name". @ship_name Mary & Elizabeth
  • Match at least so many words: To ensure that a certain number of your terms match (but not necessarily all) you can specify that number after a quoted set of terms with a slash. "Queen Mary Elizabeth"/2
  • Specify first and/or last word: Use either or both of "^" and "$" to specify that the term should be at the beginning of the matching field or the end of it, respectively. ^Mary Elizabeth$

You may also refer to the sphinx query syntax reference for complete documentation of the options available to you.


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ShipIndex.org tells you which books, magazines, and online resources mention the vessels you're researching. With 153,649 entries in the free database and 3,159,372 entries available with premium access, you're bound to find useful information here.
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A note about searching:
Searches will match both ship names and the citation text by default. There are many options for crafting your query outlined on the searching help page.
A note about icons:
Frame means the resource includes an illustration of the ship
Featherpen means the resource includes a main entry about the ship
Scroll means the resource includes a passenger or crew list for the ship

Star icon means the resource is in the premium database
New means the resource was added in the past 45 days
Dollar means the resource requires an additional subscription to access
Book means the resource is a book
Journal means the resource is a journal (magazine) or journal article
Newspaper means the resource is a newspaper
Web means the resource is a native online resource (digitized books or journals are still noted as 'book' or 'journal', even when they're accessed or accessible online)
To see all the books, magazines, and online resources included in this index, check the Resources page.