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This section includes information about the archival terms used in the catalogue. If there are any other terms which you would like an explanation for, please get in touch via the Contact Us page.


This is the archival term for where the record can be found in the catalogue structure. The levels used in the catalogue are listed below:

  • Fonds level - The whole of the collection, organically created and/or accumulated and used by a particular person, family or corporate body in the course of that creator's activities and functions. The fonds level provides an overview and a summary of the contents of the archive collection as a whole.
  • Series level - A subdivision of the fonds level, e.g. the papers of the Sociological Society.
  • Subseries level - A subdivision of series level, e.g. financial papers within the Institute of Sociology series.
  • File level - A group of related records within the series, e.g. a photograph album.
  • Item level - The smallest intellectually indivisible archival unit within the series, e.g. a single letter or photograph.


The reference number is the unique number used to identify each individual record. This is the number you will need to request a document in the search room or order a copy.


Some of the documents and files in the collection have old reference numbers which are no longer used as a finding number. All old numbers have been recorded in the Alternative Reference Number (AltRefNo) field and you can use the Advanced search page to look up the up-to-date reference number. In some cases the material has been split into two or more separate catalogue entries. Searching for the Alternative Reference Number will bring up all of the catalogue entries and the Alternative Reference Number will appear in brackets.


This field provides information about the quantity of material which is being described (e.g. 2 boxes, 1 volume).

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