Search Help

Brief guide to searching

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

Quick search

The quick search is via the ‘Google-style’ box in the top right corner of the screen

This will search across the main text fields only (normally title and description) and it does not search dates or references. Where more than one term is entered, the default is an AND search. For example:

Railway Station

searches all fields for the words 'railway' and 'station' anywhere, i.e. not necessarily next to each other or in the specified order.

If you want to search only for an exact phrase, enter the text with double quotation marks, eg “Railway Station”.

Advanced search

The advanced option enables you to perform ‘Any Text Field’ searches, and also to search specifically by Ref (if you know the Reference already) and Date, or any combination of the three.

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 standard criteria by clicking on ‘Refine Search Criteria’. There are three ways to refine the search option:

With all the words

With at least one of the words

Without the words

Please note:

The search facility will only search for records containing the exact terms you have entered. It cannot at present search for subjects, so if you entered 'crime' into a box, the search would merely retrieve records containing the word 'crime' in any text fields.

Also, as details (such as place or name) are not generally repeated throughout the various levels of description of a collection, the record that you want may not contain all the information required to find it. For example, if you wanted to find a marriage register for Humberstone parish church, you would need to search for both words ‘Humberstone’ and ‘parish’ first, in order to find the full list of the church records. The ‘Collection Browser’ could then be used to identify the relevant register.

Search text is not case-sensitive, so upper or lower case can be used.

Wildcard search

Searches can be made for words which have the same stem or ending, including personal and place names with alternative spellings, by using an asterisk. You can use this whenever there may be word or spelling variations.


  • Sm*th will find Smith and Smyth.
  • Quorn* will find Quorn and Quorndon.
  • *knitter will find frameworkknitter, framework knitter and framework-knitter.
  • farm* will find farm, farms, farming, farmer etc.


If you want to narrow your search by date or by period, a flexible range of formats is permitted in the ‘Date’ box. There are many possibilities, but the following are the most common formats supported:

Search term enteredDates searched
1764 Any date in the year 1764
1764-1782 Any date within any of the years 1764 to 1782 inclusive
April-Dec 1764 Any date between 1 April and 31 December 1764
1-2 April 1764 1 and 2 April 1764 only
1 April-10 Dec 1764 Any date between 1 April and 10 Dec 1764
1 April 1764-Dec 1765 Dates between 1 April 1764 and 31 Dec 1765
1 April 1764-1765 Dates between 1 April 1764 and 31 December 1765
c 1764, c. 1764 or circa 1764 The year 1764 and 10 years either side (i.e. 1754-1774)
18th century The range of years 1700-1799
Early 18th century First 40 years of the 18th century (1700-1739)
Mid 18th century Middle 40 years of the 18th century (1730-1769)
Late 18th century Last 40 years of the 18th century (1760-1799)
Early 1700s Any date between 1700 and 1704 inclusive
1700s Any date between 1700 and 1709 inclusive


  • Months may be entered in full or by the first three letters - April or Apr, September or Sep
  • Dates may be entered with or without an ordinal suffix - 1 April or 1st April, 18 century or 18th century.
  • A date found within square brackets is inferred or estimated from evidence in the document (or elsewhere) and is not actually stated - [1764], n.d. [c.1760], n.d. [Mid 18th century] (n.d.= no date).

Boolean searching (quick search only)

You may wish to combine search terms in your quick searches using the Boolean ‘and, or, not’ searching options:

+ represents Boolean And, meaning the search result must include this word

- represents Boolean Not, meaning the search result must exclude this word

| represents Boolean Or, meaning the search result may include this word

Place one of these symbols before a word or phrase to apply it. If no symbols are used, Boolean “And” is assumed. For example:

Railway –Station

searches all fields for the word 'railway' and excludes any records with the word 'station' from the search results.

Unlike quick searches, advanced searches do not require you to use Boolean symbols. Please use the ‘Refine Search Criteria’ option instead.

Records without references

A search may find ‘records’ which contain no references. These are merely ‘section’ or ‘series’ level headings in collections and cannot be ordered in the Record Office searchroom. Please use the ‘Collection Browser’ to see the individual records within these headings. Only these records (at ‘file’ or ‘item’ levels) may be ordered up.

Powered by CalmView© 2008-2023