HOLLIS & WorldCat


HOLLIS is Harvard's online search engine for our physical and online collections. There are two different options for searching:

  • Library Catalog searches books, journals, videos, images, government documents, manuscripts, digital resources, etc. It searches the full text of archival finding aids.
  • Everything searches journal and newspaper articles and a vast range of other electronic resources, some of which Harvard does not possess.

Search Tips

  • Use quotes "" to keep words together as a phrase, thus "shell shock" rather than shell shock which is searched as shell AND shock
  • Words are automatically truncated. Thus when Creationism is searched, Creation is also searched.  Use quotes ("") to turn off automatic truncation: "Creationism".
  • Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to do complex searches: e.g., (“electronic surveillance” OR eavesdropping) AND privacy
    • Note that OR and AND must be in caps. 
  • Find all forms of a word with wildcards. ? matches a single character and * matches multiple characters: e.g., feminis?; gene* therapy
    • Note: Phrase searches cannot include wildcards, and you cannot use a wildcard at the beginning of a word).

How to Get It Confusions:

View Online and Locations & Availability are usually straightforward, but How to Get It can be confusing. Sometimes How to Get It takes you to the full text or a HOLLIS record, but if not, go back to the Details page.

If you see Is Part Of and then a title, copy the title and search it in Library Catalog.

Finding Books:

A keyword search (Everything tab) limited to Books (either pre-search – adjust ‘Limit to: Any resource type’ to ‘Limit to: Books’; or post-search – ‘Refine My Results: Resource Type: Books’) yields numerous book chapters and books not available at Harvard.  To find books available via the Harvard Library, use 'Show Only' at the top of the left-hand column on the Results page.  Note that you can limit here to books not in Harvard Depository.

For more on HOLLIS

Subject Searches

  • 1. search any reasonable keywords
  • 2. choose pertinent records
  • 3, look at the Subject terms
  • 4. redo the search using those terms


The subject tags you see in HOLLIS records tell us the topic and scope of that item:

Subject terms are chosen by the Library of Congress to express the subject matter of the book.  The Library of Congress subject system is complex, and often there will be several pertinent Subject terms. For example, the following Subject terms, among many others, may apply:
Americans -- Travel -- Mexico -- History -- 19th century
Brazil -- Foreign relations -- United States
Collective memory
Communism -- Guatemala -- History -- 20th century
Drug control -- Caribbean Area -- International cooperation
Drug control -- Latin America -- International cooperation
Drug control -- Mexico
Drug control -- United States -- International cooperation
Drug traffic -- Mexico
Espionage, American -- Latin America -- History
Guatemala -- History -- 1821-1945
Guatemala -- History -- 1945-1985
Hispanic Americans
Immigrants -- United States -- Social conditions
Insurgency -- Guatemala -- History -- 20th century
Intervention (International law)
Investments, American -- Mexico -- History -- 19th century
Latin America -- Politics and government -- 1948-1980
Latin America -- Politics and government -- 1980-
Latin America -- Relations -- United States
Latin Americans
Mexico -- History -- 1867-1910
Narco-terrorism -- Mexico
National security -- United States
Organized crime -- Mexico
Refugees -- Mexico
Regime change -- Latin America -- History -- 20th century
Social conflict -- Guatemala -- History -- 20th century
Spanish American literature -- 20th century -- Appreciation -- United States
Spanish American literature -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- United States
Spanish American literature -- Translations into English
Latin America -- Emigration and immigration
Latin America -- Foreign relations -- United States
Tourism -- Mexico -- History -- 19th century
United States -- Emigration and immigration
United States -- Foreign public opinion, Latin American.
United States -- Foreign relations -- 1945-1989
United States -- Foreign relations -- Brazil
United States -- Foreign relations -- Latin America

The various terms coming after the main terms, for example, Politics and government after Latin America, are called “free-floating subdivisions" and can be applied to other main terms, for example, Brazil Politics and government.

The most common Subject terms in your Results set are listed under Subject on the left-hand side.  The Library of Congress subject system is complex, and often there will be several pertinent Subject terms.

Subject Browsing:

You can browse related subject tags in HOLLIS: Choose the option to “Starts with /Browse”

This Browse yields:

You will see your subject broken down to show various aspects. This is often very useful, especially for big subjects.

The various terms coming after the main terms, for example, Controversial Literature after Creationism, are called “free-floating subdivisions" and can be applied to other main terms, for example: Evolution -- Controversial Literature.

A list of free-floating subdivisions is available at Library of Congress Subject Headings PDF Files.

Primary Source Terms:

These added terms (called subdivisions) usually indicate primary sources:

  • --Archives
  • --Biography (Includes autobiographies as well as (secondary) third person biographies)
  • --Caricatures and cartoons
  • --Comic books, strips, etc.
  • --Correspondence
  • --Description and travel
  • --Diaries
  • --Interviews
  • --Manuscripts
  • --Notebooks, sketchbooks, etc.
  • --Personal narratives
  • --Sermons
  • --Sources (usually refers to collections of published primary sources)


or in Advanced search:

Note that "Creationism" is in quotes ("") to turn off automatic truncation and inclusion  of Subject: Creation in the results set.

Browsing the Shelves Online

Browsing the actual shelves allows you to dip into books and immediately gauge their value. You will, however, miss any books that are checked out or in the Harvard Depository. You can browse these too, although you cannot dip, in HOLLIS.  

  • Use “Starts with/Browse” 
  • Choose the call number system you want to browse by from the dropdown menu on the left.
  • If you don’t see the call number system you want, choose “Other call number.”
  • Find the call numbers for your search by doing keyword searches or subject browses and noting the call numbers for appropriate items.

The Library of Congress Classification is available online.

All material published in a country or state

You can do a HOLLIS search for material published in a particular country or US state.  Go to HOLLIS Advanced search and adjust the menu to Code: MARC Place of publication. Put, for example for Chile, cl in the search box. Country code list. You can do the same thing in WorldCat Advanced Search. Put cp:Chile in the 'Search for:' field. Cp: is country/state of publication.

These searches can be limited by language, dates, format, etc. In the usual way

There is a good deal of material in the Kress Collection of Business and Economics at the Baker Library, Harvard Business School acquired too late to appear in The Making of the Modern World which is not included in HOLLIS. There is much material on th environment of economics and business: social conditions, politics, public health, trade and transport, etc. This material is accessed via a card file at the Baker Library Historical Collections.

Finding Articles in HOLLIS

If you don’t find the article you want in HOLLIS Everything by searching the article title, try searching the journal title in HOLLIS Library Catalog.  You may limit a title keyword search to journals (adjust Limit to: from All items to Journals) or “ Browse HOLLIS by” title.

Not all of our electronic resources are searched in HOLLIS Everything.  To view our available databases go to E-Resources. Opening the Subject tab will show the various types of e-resources arrayed by subject.


Look for specialized subject bibliographies in the HOLLIS Catalog: Search, e.g., <"science and state" [Keyword search] and bibliography [Subject Keyword search]> on Expanded Search screen or in WorldCat.

If Harvard Doesn't Have It

  • Look in Borrow Direct (See Getting What You Want).
  • If not in Borrow Direct, look in WorldCat (below), and submit an Interlibrary Loan request
  • When in WorldCat, find the Series field on the WorldCat record. If your book is a volume in a series, Harvard may own the whole series and have one HOLLIS record for the series, rather than a record for each volume
  • If pre-1923, look in HathiTrust, Google Books and Internet Archive.
  • Submit a purchase request in HOLLIS. If it is a very new book, we may have received it, but it is not in HOLLIS yet.


For material not available at Harvard, search in: WorldCat (the OCLC Union Catalog) which includes catalog records from over 45,000 libraries worldwide but largely U.S. Includes books, periodicals, archives and manuscripts, maps, videotapes, computer readable files, etc. Includes Boston-area libraries.

Importance of WorldCat:

  • 1. Subject searching beyond Harvard. For periodicals: Advanced search. Document type-Serial Publications
  • 2. Clues for finding items in the HOLLIS Catalog, e.g., volumes in monograph series for which HOLLIS has only one record for the whole series.
  • 3. Finding non-Harvard books in Boston-area libraries.
  • 4. Verifying references for InterLibrary Loan. Give them the Accession no. at the bottom of the record (i.e., OCLC number) to speed up the request.