Brief guide to searching

There are two main ways to search the database: quick and advanced searching.

Quick Search

If you put keywords into the box in the top-left and click "Search", the catalogue will find matching entries by looking in the Title and Description fields. It won't look in the RefNo field - but if you do want to search by document reference number, you can use Advanced Search instead. If you use more than one word in your Quick Search, the results will only include entries where all the words have been found. However, that is just the default - see "Using Boolean Operators" to read about the alternatives.

Advanced Search

Please don't be put off by the name: an Advanced Search is often the quickest and easiest way to find what you are looking for.

You can search the different fields separately or in combination in an Advanced Search. The catalogue will then look for entries that contain the words you enter - and if you use quote marks it will look for the exact phrase. You can choose to change the default search criteria on Refine Search Criteria, which allows three options:
  • With all the words
  • With at least one of the words
  • Without the words
The best way to find the full list for any particular archive collection is to start by finding its top-level entry. To limit search results to the top level only, enter some keywords (fewer is often better) and choose Fonds on the drop-down menu at the bottom, before clicking Search. Click on one of the results. If you want to see a full description of that collection, click the link at the bottom of the screen - or if there is no link, there should be a document to download.

Some of the collections are unlisted, which obviously enough means there is no list - you can tell which these are by looking out for /UL inthe RefNo field. In some cases, there will be a rough or unfinished "interim list" describing unlisted material. These are unverified and often misleading so we don't put them online, but they can be used in our searchroom with staff guidance.

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