Below are some of the terms you will come across in your search.

Access status - this can be either 'Open', 'Closed (Content)', 'Closed (Condition)','Partially Closed (Content)', 'Partially Closed (Condition)', or 'To be confirmed'. If something is marked 'Closed', 'Partially closed' or 'To be confirmed', it means that you will not automatically be able to look at the item in question because it contains sensitive information of some kind, for example hospital records, court records, school records etc. - click on the 'Access to restricted records' button for more information.

Access conditions - this field will tell you what conditions apply to the particular item you wish to see, if there are any, for example you may need to wear gloves, or handle with care, or the item may be too fragile to serve i.e. produce in the searchroom.

AdminHistory - the administrative history relating to the collection you are looking at. This is found in the 'collection level' (see below) entry of the collection and provides information about how e.g. the business came into being, or the biographical history of the individual to whom the collection relates etc.

Arrangement - the way the catalogue has been arranged in terms of where the items are in the hierarchy (see 'level' below), e.g.

  • MS 2571
    Records of Birmingham Book Club, 1775 - 2003
  • MS 2571/1
    Records relating to the running of Birmingham Book Club
  • MS 2571/2
    Financial records of Birmingham Book Club
  • MS 2571/3
    Book lists and books
  • MS 2571/4
    Papers and ephemera relating to events
  • MS 2571/5
    Photographs and images, 19th cent - 21st cent.
  • MS 2571/6
    Papers relating to the history of the book club
  • MS 2571/7
    Miscellaneous, 1896 - late 20th cent.

CARN ticket - County Archive Research Network ticket - the ticket system we use here in Birmingham Archives & heritage and which we require users of the service to obtain before seeing original material Please follow this link for more details

Closed until - this field will tell you when a restricted access item, i.e. a 'closed', or 'partially closed' item becomes available to view without restriction. Click on the 'Access to restricted records' button for more information.

Collection - a distinct group of records, that form a whole because they were generated by the same creator e.g. a business, a hospital, an individual etc.

Collection level description - the overall description for a collection. This will often provide an administrative history and overall covering dates. Some of the catalogues on this online catalogue will have a collection level description only (see 'level' for other types of description), and instead of having a full catalogue will have a PDF, that is, a digital reproduction of the paper catalogue that is otherwise only available in our searchroom.

CreatorName - this field records the name of the organisations or the individuals responsible for the creation, accumulation and maintenance of the records

Extent - how many items there are in a particular entry on the catalogue

FindingNo - sometimes you will see both a Refno, and a FindingNo - please make a note of both of these.

Format - whether the material is e.g. a document, a volume, a cd etc.

Level - the level where an archive can be found in the hierarchical structure of the catalogue. Below is an example of this hierarchy:

Collection level - the top-most level e.g. Records of the Sparkbrook Association.

Sub collection level - a sub division of a collection according to administrative sub-divisions e.g. corporate records, property records, financial records etc.

Series level - directly below collection/sub collection e.g. minutes, statements of accounts, share ledgers etc. Series can contain either sub series, files or items.

Sub series level - only ever below a series; e.g. directors minutes. This can contain further sub series, files or items.

File level - a single unit, which contains other smaller units that are described individually, e.g. a file of correspondence that contains a number of letters.

Item level - the lowest level of description; an indivisible unit.

For example:

  • (Collection)
    MS 1914
    Records of the Sparkbrook Association
  • (Sub collection)
    MS 1914/1/1
    Constitution and formation
  • (Series)
    MS 1914/1/2
  • (Item)
    MS 1914/1/2/1
    Minute book

RefNo - This is the collection reference number that has been allocated to a collection, and is the first element of all the items within that collection

Archives Searchroom - secure area where archival material is served and for which you will require a CARN reader's ticket.

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