This page is a quick introduction to searching HOLLIS. In addition to the help on this pag, there is the HOLLIS User Guide, provides detailed help on using HOLLIS. Look for the guidance on refining your results by resource type, or on browsing subject headings.    

Regardless of how you search, remember to sign-in to take full advantage of HOLLIS, especially to see borrowing links. HOLLIS does not contain everything Harvard owns, and Harvard doesn't own everything in HOLLIS, but we can get you almost anything through services like BorrowDirect and Interlibrary Loan (ILL). 

HOLLIS offers two different options for searching: Everything and Library Catalog.Library Catalog is a subset of Everything; it does not include articles.

  • Choose Everything if:
    • You want to explore the broadest variety of sources.
    • Your topic is very interdisciplinary or very current.
    • You already have the title of an article you want. 
  • Choose Library Catalog if:
    • You want book-length treatments of a topic.
    • You want to search Harvard's shelves
    • You need reliable filters for authors and subjects.

Keyword Searching

Skilled use of your search words will make a significant improvement in your search results. You will also need to conduct multiple searches and continually revise your search. Assess the titles, summaries/abstracts, and subject headings from search results. Adjust your search based on what you find. The Diagnose Your Search Problems tutorial provides help with adjusting searches.   

One thing to keep in mind when searching is that language, how we refer to topics, changes over time. For example, where today "Latino/Latina/Latinx" is in common use, "Chicano/Chicana/Hispanic" was in use from the 1920s to the 1980s. Similarly, there was a time--late 19th century to the mid-20th century--when emigration was used in conjunction with immigration. It's useful to keep a list of search terms to help keep track of the use of different terms in different times.

Refining Your Results

Refining your results helps narrow down the search results to what you are looking for. Use the various options on the right-side of the search results.

  • Examples of refining your results 


Browsing/Subject Headings

If you've done the keyword searching, and would like to find a way to focus the results to more closely align with your topic, or maybe you have a book in hand and want to find more that are on similar or the same subjects. Browsing allows you to search the Library Catalog by subject or author.

  • How to Browse with a subject heading
    • Find a book in HOLLIS, and go to the full record by clicking on the title
    • Scroll down to the Subjects.
    • Select a subject and right click to open it in a new tab.
  • How to Browse when you don't have a subject heading
    • Click on the STARTS WITH / BROWSE link above the search box. 
    • Change the drop-down to Browse by SUBJECT.
    • Enter a broader/major topic word to discover subject headings. 
      • Sometimes, searching for a term leads to a list suggested search terms rather than a list of records. For example searching for migrants provides a long list of alternate terms to try.
  • Advanced Search Tip
    • It's often best to adapt the subject headings and subheadings you see in search results, or from browsing, into a new search.