Keep in mind that language changes over time, and try to use vocabulary relevant to the period. Some words that now seem pejorative once were in common usage, and vice versa.
When searching for women or others whose names changed over the course of their lives, try multiple variations. For example, Alice Ruth Moore, Mrs. Paul Dunbar, and Alice Dunbar-Nelson are all the same person. Consider how the years covered by the database align with the events of the person's life.
If a database includes a thesaurus or index of subject terms, use it to help you find the exact term being used to identify records related to a person, organization, historical event, or other topic.
When using a database or archive for the first time, look for a link to Search Help or Search Tips, often located near the main search box. This documentation will reveal the definitions of specific fields, or parts of an electronic document within which to search. Here you will also discover how to connect or exclude terms and which symbols to use for truncation, wild cards, and proximity searches.
Explore the Browsing and Advanced Search options — even if the database opens to a basic search screen by default. You may discover an option that streamlines your searching.