How do I search the catalogue

Please note that the database has been designed to work with Firefox 2.0 and Internet Explorer 7.0 or better. If you are having problems with the catalogue these may be resolved by using one of these browsers.

Quick search

You can perform a quick search by using the box at the top right hand corner of the home page. This will search across the title and description fields in the catalogue. Where more than one term is entered, only records which contain both terms will be retrieved, but these words may not appear next to each other in the text. To search for an exact phrase, use double quotation marks “”.

Browsing a collection

You can also browse the archive collections by finding a particular collection then using the tree mechanism.

To browse a collection you must first find one record from it. This can be done by searching for the RefNo or Title of the particular collection if this is known or by searching for all collection level descriptions by searching for the word ‘fonds’ in the Level field. Then click to get through to the full catalogue record of the resulting item. Then by clicking on the underlined reference number in the results you will launch the tree browser. This can then be used to browse the whole collection within which your search result features.

Advanced search

To refine your search choose ‘Advanced Search’ from the toolbar along the top of the screen, and then select catalogue. The following are descripitons of the different fields you can search in. You can use more than one field at a time.


Use this field to search across all the fields in the database. To search for an exact phrase, use double quotation marks “”.


If you know the reference number of the collection or item that you are looking for, you can enter it in this field. This is also useful for restricting your search to one collection e.g. To search for costume design in the Stanley Kubrick Archive you could put ‘SK’ in the RefNo field and ‘costume design’ in the Description or Any Text field.


This field has a picklist to allow you to search on the different hierarchical levels within collections. For an explanation of the different levels see the Glossary You can use this to find all of the collections on the catalogue by searching this field for records at the ‘fonds’ (collection) level.

Title or Description

You can narrow down your search by choosing to search in either the title or description field only.

Refine Search Criteria

If you have entered more than one search term you can refine your search further within the AnyText, Title and Description searches by selecting ‘Refine Search Criteria’ which gives you three options:

  • To search for records which contain all your search terms
  • To search for records that contain at least one of the search terms
  • To exclude certain words from your search


You can also refine your search further by entering a particular year or date range (eg. 1967, 19th century, 1930-1955).


Many of the archive records have keyword terms taken from the UK Archival thesaurus UKAT. Enter a subject term in the box and then click the term button to find if it exists in the database

Please note you can search more than one field in a single search.

Search Results

Your list of search results will be presented in three columns showing the document reference number, title of the record and date(s) of the records.

The total number of records found will be shown at the top of the display. If your search has retrieved more than 10 records, they will be displayed on further pages.

To see more details about any of the entries of this list simply click anywhere within the specific entry to be taken to the full catalogue record display. Each full catalogue record display will provide contextual information about the record at the top of the screen (e.g. name of the collection in which the record is found and other levels of description which are above the resulting record). Clicking in the RefNo field will take you to the collection browser where you can see the hierarchical context of the record (ie how it relates to other records in the collection) and see other records within the same collection.

‘Persons’ search

You can search for information about people and organisations who feature in the archive catalogue by selecting ‘Persons’ from the Advanced Search button rather than ‘Catalogue’. This searches a separate database which provides basic details about individuals and organisations named in our archive catalogue.

To use this option, search for a name or phrase in the ‘Person Name’ or ‘Anytext’ fields and click the search button. All entries in the persons database with this name will be displayed in the search results. Click on any record you are interested in to find out more about that person/organisation. All archive records which relate to the name will be displayed at the bottom of the entry, and you can click on any to be taken straight into the catalogue database.

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