On-Line Help for the Volterra Database 




Step One

Step Two

Step Three

Results Table





Welcome to the on-line Volterra Database.  For further information on Volterra go to http://www.ucl.ac.uk/history/volterra

This database has been created in Microsoft Access and exported to plain text files that can be interrogated on the internet.  The Access version of the database is available on application.


The first section of the query screen gives you the ability to choose another database, change the number of search terms and reset your query.

This button resets the query form to another database of your choice from the drop-list given.  Choose a database and click the button.  The form will remember the text of searches you already queried and the number of search terms you previously chose.

Choose the new number of search terms and click the button to submit.  The form will remember as much as possible about your prior choices.

This button completely resets the page to default values apart from the database chosen (like a "hard" reset).

This button resets to your starting values when you first entered the form (like a "soft" reset).

Step One (Search)

This search section of the query form allows you to enter a phrase to search for in the selected drop-list of fields available in the database.  Use the [Search Terms] button at the start of the query to change the number of search phrases you wish to enter.

If you have selected more than one search term then the option to enforce all or any of the filters will be given.

Negating Search Terms “!”

You can use “!” at the start of the search phrase in order to find matches without that phrase.  For example “!0345” in field “MS Datum” will find all dates not including the number 0345.  Ranges (see below) can also be negated so “!0345-0345” will return all dates not including any beginning with the year 0345. 

Note that if the search term occurs as a sub-string then the field will be rejected, e.g. “!0345” will reject “0345/10” and “CJ 03.45”, however ranges look from the start of the field only and hence are less prone to this sort of unexpected match.

Searching Ranges “-”

Any of the search terms may be used to search ranges. The dash is used between an upper and lower phrase, for example “1960-1961” will match all dates for these years (if you are searching a date field).  Note that if non-alphabetic characters break up a date field then these are ignored – so if dates are in the format Y/M/D then “1960-196010” will include “1960/10/28”.  Also note that for range searching “V” and “u” are not considered equivalent.


The range search is always a string search and hence “Cla-Jul”, “A-F” and “CJ 1-CJ 6” are all valid search ranges.  If alphabetically the upper range is before the lower range then no matches will result.  Note that to search dates you must include any leading zeros e.g. “0345-” not “345-”.

If you use more than one dash then the first dash is used, e.g. “1960-1961-07” searches for values between “1960” and “196107”.


The upper range matches all strings beginning with the text, so “A-A” matches all text from “A” to any text beginning with “A”.  If either side of the dash is blank then a default of “0” is used for the start and/or “zzzzzz” is used for the end of the range.  Hence “J-” matches all text from J onwards and “-J” matches all text up to and including any string starting with J.

Step Two (Display)

If you just want to display all fields, select the button against “Display all”.

You can tick and un-tick against all fields that you want to display.  Normally you will want to display fields that you are searching in and sorting on.  If you have ticked none of them then no matches will return unless you have chosen to “Display all”.

If you have previously “folded” some columns in the results table then these will be highlighted as hidden.

Step Three (Sort)

Here you can enter up to three sort terms.  If the primary sort field is always unique then the secondary and tertiary sorts will make no difference.  In cases where the primary sort field is not unique then these similar results will be sorted by secondary and tertiary sort fields.

The primary sort field is highlighted in red in the results table.

By default no sort term is used and the results are returned in the order they have been entered into the Access database.

Results Table

When four or more search terms are used these are printed at the bottom of the results table.  The total number of rows in the table and the number of matches are also displayed at the bottom of the results.

Clicking on the row number launches a new window with the single record displayed with all fields on one page.

Text picked out in red shows the matches to your search term(s).  Where text is broken up by non-alphanumeric characters, this will still match but not be highlighted in red.

The [Folding On] button enables you to fold (or hide) columns in the results.  This is particularly helpful if you have a very wide table but still want to ensure those fields are included in your search results.  Note: folding the primary sort field will give you formatting errors, if you need to hide the primary sort field then choose to not display it from the search page.

This button takes you back to the search page and “remembers” the options chosen including any columns you have chosen to hide using [Folding On].


1. Why is there some rubbish in the results text?

2. Why did the form not download properly?

3. When I used “!” to search negatively, why did the results show me lots of matches?

4. I got unexpected results, what is going on?

5. Why does the layout look messy?

6. How can I get a neat printout?


(a) General example search terms.

“proposito ad curiam reuerti”

“CJ 10.48.8”



 “POPVLVS” (same matches as “populus”)

(b) Chronology.

Show a list of Authors with publications in the last decade.

Select Bibliography database, and

search for “1990-” in “Year”, and

choose to display “Short Title” and “Title” only, and

sort by “Year” (though “Year” is not displayed, the sort is still valid).

Run Example

(c) Joins.

Double-check the Joins for CJ 8.10.7 in the Laws database.

Select the Laws database and select 2 search terms,

search for “CJ 8.10.7” in “Join” and also in “Law ID”,

select to match any filter and

sort by “Law ID”.

Run Example

(d) Finding a record where a field exists / does not exist.

Show records in the Laws database where a Translation exists:

Search for “-” in “Translation” (“-” is interpreted as a range search from “0” to “z”).


Show records in the Laws database where Datum (MS) does not exist:

Search for “!-” in “Datum (MS)”.


Find 19th Century books in the Bibliography database:

Search for “1800-1900” in “Year”.


Find 19th Century books and books where the date has not been entered and so might also be from the 19th Century:

Select 2 search terms and search for “1800-1900” in “Year” and also “!-” in “Year” (by choosing to match “any”).

Run Example



Ashley Van Haeften, October 2001.