Search Tips

By default, the search engine returns documents from the entire site* containing any of the search terms you enter. All searches are case-insensitive, so searching for “SALT” will return the same results as searching for “salt.” You can refine a query by (1) narrowing its scope to specific sections of the website or to specific Foreign Relations volumes and (2) using phrase, boolean, wildcard, and proximity operators in your search. Use the following techniques and syntax to improve your search results. Click on each example to pre-fill the search form with the parameters of your search, and then submit the search to see the results.

* Note that the search engine’s results are limited to the materials that the Office of the Historian has digitized. Please consult the full list of Foreign Relations volumes by administration to see which volumes have been digitized (indicated by the phrase, “full text,” next to each volume’s title), and consult the University of Wisconsin Madison FRUS collection or a library near you for access to volumes not yet available here.


Beneath the keyword search field is a set of checkboxes. Selecting any of the checkboxes can narrow the scope of your search, resulting in a faster, more specific query. The default set of checkboxes contains the major content sections of the website: Historical Documents, Department History, Milestones, Countries, Conferences, Educational Resources, FRUS Sesquicentennial, and About (FAQ, Advisory Committee Minutes). You can also select specific Foreign Relations volumes. To search for articles about U.S. diplomatic history that relate to peace:

peace (with the “Department History” and “Milestones” checkboxes selected)

If no checkboxes are selected, the entire site will be searched. To achieve the best results, combine scope with the following search operators:


When you type your search terms into the box, the search engine will search for those terms, individually, anywhere in a document. To force the search engine to find fixed phrases (i.e., specific, ordered combinations of words), place the phrase in quotation marks. To locate documents which include both “peaceful” and “nuclear” anywhere in the text, use the following search:

peaceful nuclear

To locate documents which use the phrase “peaceful nuclear,” use this search:

"peaceful nuclear"


The search engine will allow you to perform Boolean searches (AND, OR, and NOT). Boolean operators must be in all caps.

You can use Boolean operators with individual terms or with phrases enclosed in quotation marks. For example, to locate documents which include both the word “Kissinger” and the phrase “peaceful nuclear,” use this search:

Kissinger AND "peaceful nuclear"

To locate documents which include either “Rhodesia” or “Zimbabwe,” use this search:

Rhodesia OR Zimbabwe

To locate documents which include the phrase “arms control” but exclude documents which also include the term “SALT,” use this search:

"arms control" NOT SALT

You can also use the plus (+) and minus (-) signs to include or exclude certain terms. To search for documents which must include the phrase “law of the sea” and may include the term “seabed,” use this search:

+"law of the sea" seabed

To search for documents which include “Korea” but not “DMZ,” use this search:

Korea -DMZ

Finally, you can use parentheses to nest your searches. To find documents which include “Guatemala” or “El Salvador” and “Belize,” use this search:

(Guatemala OR "El Salvador") AND Belize


If you are unsure about the spelling of a term or want to find variants of a term, you can use wildcards. The search engine supports two wildcard characters: ? and *.

If you want to replace a single letter in your search term, use ? in your query. To find documents which include “text” or “test,” use this search:


Note that the above search will not return hits for “Tet” or “teapot.” If you want to replace zero or more letters in your search term use * in your query. For example, to find documents which include “Vietnam” and “Vietnamese,” use this search:


Note that the above search will not return hits for “Viet Nam,” another spelling of the same country. You may have to try multiple variants of the same search to get all the results you need.


If you are searching for common words, you can tell the search engine to only return documents in which the words are within a distance you define. To find documents which include “Cuba” and “submarine” within 10 words of each other, use this search:

"Cuba submarine"~10

We are aware that “keyword in context” summary of the results of proximity searches are not displaying correctly. The search results themselves, however, are reliable.