Brief guide to searching

There are two main ways to search the catalogue, quick searching and advanced searching.

Quick search

You can perform a quick search by using the search box in the top right hand corner of the Catalogue page.

The quick search will only search across the Title and Description fields in the catalogue records. Where more than one term is entered, the default is an AND search, meaning that only records containing both these search terms will be returned.

Advanced search

To perform a refined search you can choose to undertake an 'advanced search' using the button on the left hand menu. You can search using more than one field at a time.

Any text: The advanced search enables you to perform a search across all fields that are populated in a catalogue record (using the 'Any text' field).

Ref no: If you know the reference number of a collection or item you are looking for you can enter it in this field. This is also useful if you want to restrict your search to only one collection, or set of collections. You can use an asterisk (*) in this field if you know which collection you wish to search. For example, to search only within the University Archive enter UNI*; to search only within the Mark Thomas Collection in the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive enter BSUCA/MT*.

Title and description fields: Use these fields to narrow your search; using these fields will only return records which have your search term in the title or description of a record. Searching in the description field is likely to return the most results. If you are searching for records relating to a particular person the description field is likely to yield the most results.

Date: You can refine your search by entering a year, month, or day. You can also search by date range (e.g. 1997-1999, 19th century).

Level: This field allows you to search on different hierarchical levels within collections. See the glossary for an explanation of the different levels in archival cataloguing.

Category: Use this field to select the type of material that you are interested in, such as audio recordings, posters, contracts. You can either refine your search criteria by entering search text and then refining by category, or you can use this menu to browse all the material of a particular category (e.g. all our moving image recordings).

Refine advanced search criteria

By default, a search will look for the word or words you have entered. However you can choose to change the default search criteria by clicking the 'Refine Search Criteria' option. There are three ways to refine the search option:

  • With all the words
  • With at least one of the words
  • Without the words


Sorting your search results

Use the picklist in the bottom right corner to select how many records are displayed at one time (between 5 or all).

Results are presented in Reference Number order. To sort your results differently (by date, for example) click on the field's column heading by the white arrow. Sorting other than by reference number is not possible if you have over 5000 results so you might want to then return to 'advanced search' and narrow your search.

Browsing a collection

You can browse collections by finding a record within a collection and then using the tree mechanism to get an overview of the collection, and see records within the context of the whole collection.

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