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How To Search Our Online Catalogue


Any Text

This field searches all text fields within the catalogue.

You can use an asterisk (*) as a wildcard to broaden a search, for example, archaeolog* will find archaeologia, archaeology, archaeological and archaeologist.


This field displays all records with 'reference numbers' matching the search string

For example, searching for MD.NC returns all records for Newcastle City Council. 

This is useful if you know part or all of the reference number assigned to a collection or its component.

Remember to use the asterisk (*) wildcard if you know only part of a reference.


This will search the title field only and will produce more limited results than searching with ‘Any Text’.

For example, a search on South Shields will return all records with that place name in the title.


This allows you to search for particular record types in the database. This is most useful if you are looking specifically for a book or pamphlet in our search room library. 

Every record in our database is either: collection, component (both relating to archive collections), analytical or book (relating to our search room library).

If you want to know what books we have on Newcastle United:

  • In Any Text, type Newcastle United
  • In RecordType, type Analytical
  • Click on search.

The database will find and list 5 records:

  1. L/4659            Newcastle United FC - the 25 years record
  2. L/4729            United - The First 100 Years
  3. L/4938            The Newcastle United FC Story
  4. L/4939            The Newcastle United FC Story No. 3
  5. L/PA/595         Newcastle United v Liverpool match programme

Please note most of our library is described as analytical rather than book

RecordType does not refer to the physical description of the document (photograph, volume, plan etc)


Archival catalogues are arranged hierarchically. This means that information is arranged in a tree structure, starting at the top with more general information (collection level) and moving down to specific information about individual items (item level).

The terms we use are:

  • Collection
  • CollectionSummary
  • Section
  • SubSection
  • Series
  • SubSeries
  • Item
  • Piece


Search by Date if you know the approximate date of an event. A wide range of date formats are supported:




Any date in the year 1567

1900 – 1910

Any date within any of the years 1900 - 1910 inclusive

Aug - Dec 1700

Any date between 1 August - 31 December 1700

1 - 2 May 1844

1st & 2nd May 1844 only

1 Jun - 30 Oct 1700

Any date between 1 June - 30 October 1700

1 May 1796 - 30 Oct 1798

Any date between 1 May 1796 - 30 October 1798

31 May 1800 - Jun 1801

Dates between 31 May and any date in June 1801

4 Apr 1945 – 1946

Dates between 4 April 1945 and any date in 1946




early 1900s

Any date between 1900 - 1904 inclusive


Any date between 1800 - 1809 inclusive

circa 1565
c 1565, c. 1565

Any date +/- 30 years centred on 1565 (1550-1579)

13th century

The range of years 1200 – 1299

early 13th century

First 40 years of the 13th century (1200-1239)

mid 14th century

Middle 40 years of the 14th century (1330 – 1369)

late 16th century

Last 40 years of the 16th century (1560-1599)


You can also combine searches in different fields to refine your search results.

For example,

  • In Any Text, type South Shields
  • In Title, type Poor Law
  • In Level, type Collection
  • Click on search.

The database will find 1 record: PU.SS South Shields Poor Law Union

Refining a search when too many records are found

Sometimes, a search term is too general and produces a results list that is too big.

For example, typing Newcastle in ‘Any Text’ will produce over 4500 hits.

To narrow your search, click on ‘Search Again’ and use another search term in one of the fields.  Then click on either ‘Narrow’ or ‘Exclude’.

For example, typing football in ‘Any Text’ and then clicking on ‘Narrow’ will produce 24 results. (You have searched for any references to football in Newcastle)

For example, typing MD.NC in ‘RefNo’ and then clicking on ‘Exclude’ will produce fewer results. (You have searched for any references to Newcastle apart from those in the records of Newcastle City Council)


Results are displayed in hit lists of 50 items to a page and are sorted by reference number.

If you wish the hit list to be displayed alphabetically by title or in date order, click the blue Title or Date column headings. Use the Next, Prev, First and Last buttons to move through a hit list.

You can view the more detailed document descriptions by clicking on the hit list numbers on the left of screen.

Please contact us if you have any questions or would like individual assistance.