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  • Quick search
  • Search results
  • Full descriptions of records
  • Hierarchy browser
  • Advanced search
  • Search tips

Quick search
You can perform a quick search by using the box at the top right hand side of the page. This option searches across all the title and description fields in the catalogue database.

Simply type the word or words you wish to search on into the search box. If you enter more than one word, the search will automatically retrieve records which contain both words in the title or description fields.

If you want to search for an exact phrase (so that the words appear adjacent to each other in the text), e.g. Regent Street, enter the text with double quotation marks, thus "Regent Street".

Use an asterisk to perform a wildcard search, for example, rail* will search for rail, rails, railway etc.

Search results
The results of your search will produce a hitlist of records, presented in three columns:
Ref No

The total number of catalogue records retrieved will be given at the top of the display. If the search has retrieved more than 5 records, use the Next, Previous, Start and End links at the top of the screen to view all the records in your hitlist.

By default, the records in the results hitlist are presented in Ref No order. You can sort the records by Title or Date by clicking on the appropriate column heading above the displayed records.

Please note that the search term(s) may not appear in the text displayed in the hitlist; if not, it will appear in the more detailed catalogue descriptions which can be viewed by clicking on the Ref No.

To find out more information about an entry displayed in the hitlist, click on any part of the particular entry and the full description and all other relevant information will be displayed.

Click on the Ref No if you want to see the record in its hierarchical context (i.e. how it relates to other records in the collection) and to see other records in the same collection.

Full descriptions of records
Full descriptions provide detailed information on a record including reference number, title, description, access status etc.

The original search terms are highlighted in yellow.

To go back to the hitlist, click on 'Search results'.

Above the full description of the record you can see where the record fits within its collection. Click on one of those levels to see the full catalogue record for that level.

To see the hierarchy for the entire collection click on the Ref No. This will take you to the hierarchy browser.

Hierarchy browser
Most archive collections contain multiple items. Viewing a record in a context will give you an overview of the collection and the items placed in it. You can do this by selecting the hierarchy browser for a collection.

To see the hierarchy browser click on the Ref No in the full description of the record.

A tree structure will appear, with the option to expand or contract particular sections.

Click on a particular entry in the hierarchy browser to see the full description of that record.

To return to the original search results hitlist, use the back buttons at the top of your browser screen.

Advanced search
To perform an advanced search, click on the 'Advanced Search' button on the top bar.

Enter a word or words in one or more of the following search options:

Title*: to search the titles of records

Description*: to search the descriptions of records

Any Text*: to search the whole catalogue

Ref No: to search by reference number

Level: use the pick list to search for records at a particular level in the catalogue.

Date: to narrow your search down to records of a particular year or range of years (e.g. 1883, 1965-1970)

Format: use the pick list to search for a particular type of record

As well as detailed descriptions of individual documents, the online catalogue includes descriptions of entire collections. Archives are arranged into collections called 'fonds' and then sub-divided as needed into 'series', 'sub-series', 'files' and 'items'. Please see the glossary for further information about these archival terms.

Fields with an asterisk (*) indicate that you can refine the search criteria to search for records:

  • With all the words
  • With at least one of the words
  • Without the words (e.g. if you are using several search options)

If you want to search for an exact phrase use double quotation marks, e.g. "Regent Street".

Use an asterisk to perform a wildcard search, for example, rail* will search for rail, rails, railway etc.

Search tips
If your search produces too many results, you can narrow down your search using the Advanced search options.

Searching for specific people by their names may not produce any search results as these names often do not appear in the catalogue records.

See also FAQs for more tips on searching.

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