The OHS Pipe Organ Database

The OHS Database exists to provide a service to its online visitors, but not all of us come to the site with the same degree of experience. Computer-based information systems are often more rigid in their reliance on math-based logic than many musicians, and the differences between expectation and execution can lead to frustration. This page is meant to serve as a guide both to lessen frustration and to increase benefits realized by all those who use our search forms

In keeping with the traditions of OHS from 1959, the Database identifies builders by the specific form of the name that appears on their nameplates. That distinction is often helpful in cases such as long-lived firms whose name changes over time, or even small builders who change the way they self-identify on their instruments. However, trying to search for a builder by using the full name can produce a list that omits important entries.

For example, if you search for organs by "Hook & Hastings," you would not see any of their instruments where they used the form "Hook & Hastings Co." or "Hook-Hastings Co." on the nameplate. If, however, you entered only "Hook" or only "Hastings" you would see all appropriate entries. It is always best to enter only one word from the name if you are searching with a specific builder as part of your criteria.

The Power Search form offers two fields that can be used to narrow your result list.

  • If you enter only "Hook" as the word included in the builder's name, and put nothing in the second blank, you will see
    • these seven names you might expect
      • George Greenleaf Hook
      • Elias Hook
      • E. & G.G. Hook
      • E. & G.G. Hook & Hastings
      • Hook & Hastings
      • Hook & Hastings Co.
      • Hook-Hastings Co.
    • as well as these three names you might not expect
      • Frederick Clapp Hook, son of George G. Hook, who worked with Hook & Hastings in the early twentieth century.
      • Hook Brothers, the firm operated in Toronto, Ontario, in the 1870s
      • David Shooks, whose name includes "hook" within it
  • If you enter "Hook" as one word in a name in the first blank, and "Hastings" as the single word in the second blank, you will see only these entries
    • E. & G.G. Hook & Hastings
    • Hook & Hastings
    • Hook & Hastings Co.
    • Hook-Hastings Co.
  • Should you enter "Hook" as the word in the first blank, and "Hastings" as the word not included in the second blank, you'll get this list
    • E. & G. G. Hook
    • Hook Brothers
    • Elias Hook
    • Frederick Clapp Hook
    • George Greenleaf Hook
    • David Shooks

Searching by country or by US state or Canadian Province is possible only through selection from a list. It is not possible to simply enter part or all of a country's or state's name in a search.

If you do not see the name of a country in the list, please let us know via e-mail to the Database Manager. The country's name will be added to the list when we receive notice of a pipe organ from North America being installed there. All US states and Canadian provinces are included, and Mexican states will be added as soon as our entries for Mexican pipe organs reaches a significant number.

Searching for organs in a particular city is similar to searching for a specific builder's name: The best approach is to enter only one word from a city's name.

Most of our content is derived from user input, and occasionally typos and inaccuracies make it past our review process. We make an effort to insure that you will find entries for St. Louis, even if you enter "Saint Louis," or that you will find Fort Worth even if you enter "Ft. Worth." However, to be sure you locate all the entries you are looking for, it is best to enter only "Louis" or "Worth" as the city name in these and similar instances.

Additionally, the great variety of ways in which we refer to metropolitan areas make it difficult for our human input to be as precise as the machinery expects us to be. Our protocol requires us to include the full name as it is used by the city (town or village) government, to use names in common use, to use names in accordance with the US Postal Service, and where necessary to be in agreement with the Federal designation of a locale as a Census Designated Place. For full details of this protocol, see Guidelines for Contributors.

  • New York City: Queens (Far Rockaway)
    • A search for organs in New York City will find all the organs in all five boroughs, including Queens.
    • A search for organs in Queens will find all the organs in Queens, both those in Far Rockaway and those in the other districts/neighborhoods: Astoria, Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Jamaica, etc.
    • A search for organs in Far Rockaway will find only those in that neighborhood of The Rockaways.

In all results returned from one of these searches, the name of the city will be given in its full form, as you see above.


Power Search option: It is possible to include or exclude a name or part of a name from a city search. For example, a search can be conducted for city names that do include "Green" but do not include "ville."

As is the case with all our entries, names of institutions are received through our online forms, and site visitors often use short forms of the names of institutions. Thus, a single location might appear in one entry as St. Paul's Cathedral, in another as The Cathedral of St. Paul, and in yet a third as simply St. Paul's. If you search for any one of these names, you will not see entries under the other two names in your result list. On the other hand, if you simply search for "Paul," you will find all three entries, which will probably be a more useful list, assuming you have also limited your search to a specific city.

The Power Search form offers the option of finding institutions either with or without the word you enter, as it does in the search by builder name or city name.

Compound Searches

Compound searches are possible with all search forms that include more than one entry field. However, we recommend that you use no more than three options (city, state and builder, for example) for your initial searches. Subsequent searches may be conducted using more entry fields, after you get a sense of how the server, your individual connection speed, and our compound search algorithms work together.

All the search fields found on the Organ Quick Search form are available on the Organ Power Search form. Differences in the ways they are handled on the two separate forms are described in the appropriate sections above. Search fields specific to the Organ Power Search form are described briefly below.

Search by Organ Date or Opus

Our stated policy is to use the year an organ's installation was completed as the date associated with an entry. However, many legacy entries do not contain a full four-digit year in the date field, often with the form "19__" or "192_." That being the case in too many situations, a search for organs built in 1924, for example, might not yield complete results. In more recent entries we do our best to use one of these formats when the installation date is not known. These forms still permit searches to be conducted using a four-digit number in the date field.

  • ca. 1945
  • 1930s
  • before 1960
  • after 2001

Power Search Form Example 3: Search by bracketing dates.The last two formats are used only when we have received no documentation for an organ, but its existence, past or present, is certain. The most fruitful approach for searching by date is to bracket a year using both date fields, as you see in the example graphic. The last two formats are used only when we have received no documentation for an organ, but its existence, past or present, is certain. The most fruitful approach for searching by date is to bracket a year using both date fields, as you see in the example.

We strongly recommend using the same approach when searching for specific opus numbers.