Guide to searching the casebooks

The Casebooks Search function permits searching of all the currently available data, within whatever parameters the user chooses. For clarification about the precise meaning of the terms employed, see Guide to reading the cases and Topics of consultations.

Users solely concerned with medical topics can exclude cases that do not feature a medical topic by choosing ‘Yes’ in the ‘Limit results to cases containing a medical topic’ checkbox in the Topics field. If this is selected, searches will still retrieve entries that feature both a medical and a non-medical component.

After any search, a dynamically generated ‘Search Results’ page provides links to the full details of any cases that match the search criteria. It also provides links to the Person Pages of any individuals involved. These summarise as much biographical information as possible about the person in question, drawing on the total available corpus. Note that some people are given more than one date of birth or death: this happens when the person in question features in more than one entry with conflicting evidence about such dates. Estimated date ranges are given where no precise date of birth is recorded anywhere in the casebooks but an approximate date of birth can be calculated by subtracting the person’s recorded age from the date of a consultation. Again, the evidence is often conflicting (someone may be described as 26 in one consultation and 25 in another one two years later), resulting in sometimes very wide estimated ranges.

The ‘Search results summary’ page (generated by clicking on ‘View result summary’ at the top of the ‘Search Results’ page) provides a detailed statistical breakdown of the total results. When using this, it is important to bear in mind that a given case may feature more than one querent, patient, topic, etc. A search for the topic ‘pregnancy’ will find all the cases involving that topic, including those that also involve other topics.

By the same token, a search for female querents under 25 years old will identify a number of querents who are not female and/or not under 25, if these feature as co-querents with women who are under 25.

Again, this means that the total number of querents or patients identified is likely to be greater than the number of cases.

When searching for date ranges at a more granular level than by month (e.g. 4–6 July in a given year, or 14 July to 3 August), the current display of case counts on the ‘Summary’ page may appear somewhat counter-intuitive in that it will give figures for ‘cases in July’ in the first example or ‘cases in July’ and ‘cases in August’ in the second. However, it will in fact only be displaying cases that fall within the parameters set by the user.

Within the ‘Search’ page, the ‘Practice and Consultant’ field permits filtering according to which astrologer was presiding over the consultation and under whose aegis he was acting. In most cases this amounts to the same thing, but there are instances of Napier’s handwriting appearing in Forman’s casebooks or vice versa, suggesting that they sometimes stood in for each other in their separate practices. There are also a large number of examples of Napier’s curate Gerence James or one of a number of other assistants acting as consultant in his master’s practice.

Three further filters in the ‘Patient’ pane provide the option of limiting results to cases in which there is evidence that the patient either was or was not present at the consultation, or to those in which someone else was asking about the patient and the record contains an explicit statement that the question was put either with or without the patient’s knowledge and/or consent. In most cases there is no such statement, but in a significant number there is, as this had a bearing on how the astrologer interpreted the chart.

The ‘Search’ page also provides an option of restricting searches to a particular volume or volumes, using either the canonical Bodleian call numbers or the Casebooks Project’s own numeration. For a collation of these two alternative designations, see the Manuscripts list.

Document last modified: 1 January 2017

Cite this as: Casebooks Project (Guide to searching),, accessed 2018-09-19.