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Quick search

The search box in the top right corner of the home page allows you to perform a quick search. This only searches the Title and Description fields of the records; if you want to search all fields use the AnyText search option on the Advanced Search screen (see below).

If you are having problems finding what you are looking for you can use Boolean searching to narrow your results:

  • + represents Boolean And, meaning the search result must include both words, e.g. Chester+schools will show all records with both Chester and schools in the title or description fields.
  • - represents Boolean Not, meaning the search result must exclude the second word, e.g. schools-Chester will show all records that mention schools apart from those that also include Chester.
  • | represents Boolean Or, meaning that the search result may include either word, e.g. Kensington|London will show all records with the word London as well as all records with Kensington in the title or description fields.
  • To search for an exact phrase put the words inside quotation marks, e.g. "Victor Branford" or "Forest of Dean".
  • Wildcard searching can be carried out using * e.g. searching for ches* will bring up all entries that include words beginning with ches, for example Chester and Cheshire.


Advanced search

You can access the Advanced Search page via the menu on the left hand side of the screen. AnyText searches across all fields in the catalogue. Use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase. This field can also be used to search by RefNo for a specific record if you already know the reference number.

Title and Description allow you to search only these fields rather than on the whole record, which can help to narrow your search results. They both have the option to 'Refine search criteria' which gives you three options:

  • to search only for records that contain your search terms ('with all words')
  • to search for records which contain at least one, but not necessarily all of your search terms ('with at least one of the words')
  • to exclude from your search certain words or phrases that you are not interested in and that might otherwise be called up by the search criteria that you have chosen ('without the words').

Date can be used to search for a specific year or for a date range, e.g. 1927 or 1920-1930.


AltRef refers to reference numbers which have been used in the past but have now been replaced. If you have used a document from the collection before and only know the old number you can search for the record using this field. Alternative reference numbers typically begin with VB or AF. To request a document in the searchroom you will need the up-to-date reference number displayed in the Ref. No. field.

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