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Simple Searching

You can perform a quick search by using the box at the top right hand side on the home page.

This option is an 'any text' search and so will return a maximum number of hits based on your search criteria, and so may return unwanted records. For advanced search options click here.

Simply type the word or words you wish to search on into the search box. Where more than one term is entered, the search will automatically retrieve records which contain both terms. These terms may not always appear next to each other in the text.

You can use an asterisk or star (*) as a wildcard to broaden a search, for instance: Birm* will return search results for all words beginning with 'Birm', for instance Birmingham.

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

'Search results' page

Results are displayed in a 'Search results' page in a hit list format displaying reference number, title, date, and where appropriate, thumbnail.

  • The total number of records that your search found is displayed at the top.
  • 'Next' and 'Prev', 'First' and 'Last' buttons enable you to move through the hit list.
  • N.B. A hit list like this contains catalogue records at many different levels including collection level descriptions right down to item level descriptions. By clicking on the hit list numbers to the left of your results you can select a record and see its description in more detail. Your search word/words will be highlighted in yellow.
  • Catalogues do vary in the level of detail to which they are produced. Some catalogues go down to item level - that is each individual item in a collection is described, while others are at series level - that is a group of similar records are described in one entry. Some collections are described at collection level - that is a broad description is given for an entire collection.
  • You can sort your search results by RefNo, level, title, and date by clicking on the column header.

'Record' Page

Clicking on one of the items in your hitlist will take you to the 'Record' page. This page gives you more detail about the items you have selected from the hitlist and can include some or all of the following:

  • RefNo - the number you will use to order out the item (see 'finding number' and 'level' below)
  • Finding number - if this appears then it is this number you will need to request when visiting the Archives
  • Title
  • Date (date or covering dates of the item/s described)
  • Level (catalogues do vary in the level of detail to which they are produced). Some catalogues go down to item level - that is each individual item in a collection is described, while others are at series level - that is a group of similar records are described in one entry. On this online catalogue some collections are described at 'collection level' - that is, a broad description is given for an entire collection. Some collections with a 'collection level description' may well have a paper catalogue available in our searchroom. This will be indicated by the following sentence 'This is a collection level description. A paper catalogue is available in our Archives & Heritage search room'. Some of these catalogues may be available as a PDF file, and this will be available as a link from the catalogue entry that you will be able to click on and open.
  • Description
  • Extent (how many items there are)
  • Format (the type of item/s e.g. volumes, photographs, documents etc.)
  • Access Status (See 'Access Information' below)
  • Access Conditions (See 'Access Information' below)

N.B. In general, you can only order out files and items (i.e. not series and collections). But this does depend on the size of the collection, and the formats of its contents - if in doubt ask staff for advice.

Access Information

'Open', 'Closed', and 'To be confirmed'

  • Entries in the catalogue do have their access information attached.
  • Where an item/s are indicated as being 'Closed' or 'Partially closed' this means that there are restrictions on those items, and you will not be able to access the item/s without consulting us first.
  • Restrictions are placed on items that contain sensitive information under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998.
  • If something you are interested in is marked as 'Closed' or 'Partially closed' - do contact us in the first instance for advice before visiting.
  • The 'Closed' and 'Partially closed' items may be further defined, that is, you may see that an item is marked as 'Closed - condition', or 'Closed - content'. 'Closed - condition' means that the reason you cannot have access to the item is because the condition of the item itself makes it inaccessible. This can be for a number of reasons, for example the item might be too fragile too handle, or mouldy, or be a glass plate negative. 'Closed - content' means that the information contained within that item is of a sensitive nature, for example, a hospital case file about an individual from the 1970s.
  • Some material will be marked as 'To be confirmed'. This is the case when the access to an item or set of items has not yet been decided. Again, if you are interested in items marked as such, then do contact us for advice before visiting.

'Collection browser'

You can display the list of an entire collection in a tree structure by clicking on the reference number 'RefNo.'

  • This will show the position of a record in the catalogue of that collection as a whole in what we call a 'tree structure' similar to that in Windows Explorer.
  • The tree structure is a hierarchical diagram of the entire collection in which the record you have selected belongs. The record you selected is the one that is most opened in that structure.
  • You can select any of the records in the tree by clicking on the number/letter to the left of the record in which you are interested, and this will take you to the record page for that item.

Advanced searching

How do I search within one collection?

  • Go to the 'Advanced Search' option
  • In RefNo, type the overall collection reference of the collection you want to search e.g. MS 2571, or S 1, or EP 54 etc. - note the spaces in the reference - these are important to include. (If you don't know this begin with a simple search as above to identify the collection in which you are interested).

Refining my search

  • Go to the 'Advanced Search' option
  • 'Any text', 'Title', and 'Description' all have 'refine search criteria' option. Click on these to define further your search by including or excluding certain search terms.

Any text

Use this field to search across all the text fields in the catalogue database. Where more than one term is entered, the search will automatically retrieve records which contain both terms. These terms may not always appear next to each other in the text.

RefNo

If you know that catalogue reference for the material in which you are interested, enter it here.

Date

You can narrow your search down to a particular date, or a date range (e.g. 1837, 1910-1950, or 18th century).

Title and Description

If you wish to narrow down your search, instead of choosing the AnyText option, enter your search term under either the 'Title' or 'Description' field. The results will only call up instances where your chosen term appears in the title or description of the record.

Click here to search the catalogue

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