Language and Culture Archive of Ashkenazic Jewry Digital Archive User Guide: Searching for Answers to Questions

This is a guide to using the Digital Archive to the Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry (

Quick Guide

If you only want to search a particular Name (Interview Code), Region, City, or Document Type (blue books, answer sheets, printouts);  begin by clicking the filter for that format.  You can then search within the subset that you've chosen.


To Find Printouts:

"blue dot" AND "volume 002"

"black binder" AND "box 191" AND "volume 002"

(Black Binder searches need a box number)

To Find Answer Sheets:

5362 AND 002

(searching for interviewee number and questionnaire page number)

To Find Blue Books:


(interviewee number only)

Searching for Answers to Questions


Most users of this collection will be doing one of the four kinds of searches described below: 1) Looking for all the answers to a particular question; 2) Looking for the answer to a specific question or a particular word or phrase in the response for a particular locality or group of localities; 3) Looking for all the linguistic data relating to a particular locality; 4) Looking for a particular word or phrase anywhere in the data set.

1) Finding All the Answers to Specific Questions

(Unless you know the question number you wish to find an answer for, you should look first at the section on the Questionnaire.)

The most efficient way to assemble answers to a given question is to begin with the printouts, which bring together large numbers of responses to a single question or subquestion.  Depending on the questionnaire(s) in which your question is found, you will want to use the following series:

  • Eastern and Western      BlueDot, YellowDot, RedDot, BlackBinder
  • Eastern only                  BlueDot, YellowDot, BlackBinder
  • Western only                 RedDot

To find that page in the collection, go to the Search Interface and do a search of the type illustrated in the following example: "blue dot" AND "volume 001", indicating both the series and the volume you want.  The quotation marks around the phrases, the word "volume" and the AND operator are all necessary for a precise search.  Leaving them out will retrieve many more records than you want.  Note, too that volume numbers of one and two digits are padded with a leading zero or zeros.  Those zeros are also needed for your search.  If you are searching for a Black Binder volume, you also need to include the box number -- e.g., "black binder" AND "box  190" and "volume 001".   Once you have retrieved your volume, click on the link and, below the image at the top, you will see a collection of all the page images,  scroll or search down, using Ctrl-f on Windows or Cmd-f on Mac, and click on the thumbnail to open it.  You can use the arrow at the right side of the screen when you want to move on to the next page.

You will have the best results for mapping  if you enter your data in a spreadsheet (see the section in this guide on Mapping). We would in fact recommend that you take advantage of the spreadsheets that can be provided in the LCAAJ workspace.  For more specific instructions on using the printouts, see the Printout page.

Once you have searched through the printouts, the next step is to search Answer Sheets for the data you seek. This may include data that you expected to see in the printout but did not find there.  It is still not clear to us at this point whether the printouts are a fully comprehensive record of the interviews they represent.  For more information on understanding and using the Answer Sheets, see the section on that topic. To find a specific answer sheet open the Search Interface and do a search for the interviewee and the page of the Questionnaire on which your question is found, using the syntax shown the following example: 53262 AND 002.  Note that the page numbers of one or two digits are padded with leading zeros.  You must include those zeros in your search string.

If you still cannot find a record for a given interviewee, turn to the Blue Books.  The online collection includes digitized sets of  Blue Books, the earliest form of answer sheet, for 72 interviewees.  Many were photocopied and pasted onto the uniform Answer Sheets, but a few are available only in the original, and so will need to be used as the primary source of information for a few interviewees.  Given the challenges of the script and layout of these early answer sheets, however, you may sometimes want to consult them to clarify a particular word or passage.  To find a Blue Book, simply search by the interviewee ID.  Then, if necessary, use the Document Type facet on the left hand of the page, to limit you answer to Blue Books.  Most interviewees are represented by multiple Blue Books.  Each one indicates in its title the pages of the Questionnaire covered in that particular booklet.  (As with the Answer Sheets, for verification, clarification, or further information, you may also occasionally want to view specific specific section) For more information about understanding and using the Blue Books, see the specific section on this topic.

2) Finding Answers to a specific question  for a particular locality or a small group of localities.

If you are searching for specific answers to questions for a particular locality, you can do so most efficiently by retrieving the specific answer sheet(s).  You could, of course, start with the printout records, but it will probably be more efficient in this case simply to find the appropriate Answer Sheet. To search for one locality and answer, use the pattern shown in the section on Answer Sheets in section 1 above.  To search for a group of localities at once, you can take advantage of the Search Interface's support for the OR operator and nesting, in a search of the following type:  (53262 OR 54257 OR 56247) AND 002.  Remember that, as in the searches described earlier, you are searching for the page number on which the question is found, not the question itself.  (For a full list of locality numbers, see the Appendix of Place Names.)

3) Searching for all the answers for a particular locality or small group of localities.

If you are interested in exploring the linguistic peculiarities of a particular locality, you will do so most efficiently by retrieving all of the answer sheets for the interviewee(s) for that place.  These searches will be like the ones described in section 2, without any reference to a specific page number.  Since this will retrieve over 200 records for each locality, you will probably want to do one locality at a time, even if you are interested in more than one.    In your examination of localities, you will almost certainly want to access the sound files available at EYDES as well.  A list of all localities and their numbers as well as a list of links to the EYDES sound files are available in the Appendix.)

4) Looking for a particular word or phrase anywhere in the data set. 

For the moment, only the questionnaire and other supplementary resources may be searched for text.  Note that in the questionnaire, Yiddish words are available in both Hebrew characters and YIVO transliteration.  As the OCRed text at LCAAJreseach develops, there will be increased data available there, initially via the LCAAJ-specific transliteration and notation schemes, and sometime in the future using IPA and Hebrew characters.