The NRO catalogue is too large for browsing record by record. There are two search facilities: Basic and Advanced.

Basic Search

The basic search has a type-ahead facility which will provide suggestions only after at least three characters have been entered, e.g., typing 'a' or 'an' will not work, but typing 'ant' will. If no entries are relevant, select 'all matching descriptions'. Tip: do not type Norfolk, Norwich or King's Lynn because the result list will be too large to be useful: use the Advanced Search instead. The basic search will look in archival descriptions and other information sources such as the authority records.


Use a question mark (?) for single character and an asterisk (*) for multiple characters. Useful if the exact spelling is unknown, e.g., '*wood' finds Gaywood plus Underwood and others. The single character can be repeated. Useful for uncertain spellings.

Boolean Operators

These are:

• AND: Include two search terms. Example: Gaywood AND school - this is the equivalent of the Narrow search option in NROCAT

• OR: Broaden your search with multiple terms. Example: Gaywood OR school - this is the equivalent of the Widen search option in NROCAT

• NOT: Use to exclude a specific term. Example: Gaywood NOT school - this is the equivalent of the Exclude search option in NROCAT

By default, search terms are combined with a logical AND, so 'New Theatre Committee' finds descriptions containing all three words but not necessarily in the right order. To find the specific term 'New Theatre Committee' enclose it within double quotation marks, e.g., "New Theatre Committee".

Words can also be combined by using OR or NOT and may be grouped using brackets, e.g., ("king's lynn" AND gaywood) NOT hospital.

Letter Case

Search words can be upper or lower case. Boolean operators (AND, NOT, OR) must be upper case.

Advanced Search

Applies to archival descriptions only. By combining parameters, it enables refined searches and is a useful way of reducing over-large result lists. As an example, try 'Gaywood' in the Basic Search and then again in the Advanced Search searching Any Field with Start Date as '1300-01-01' and End Date as '1700-12-31'.

For catalogue references, type the code (see below for more) and then from the drop-down list select Identifier for a specific document or Reference Code for a wider set of descriptions based on the same code. For an example, try "DC 1/1".

Catalogue Reference Numbers

Use double quotation marks. Our reference numbers usually, but not always, contain spaces which means KL/D17/1 or KL/D/17/1 will fail to find KL/D 17/1. References beginning ACC indicate an uncatalogued accession and are temporary catalogue references. A search for an ACC may fail if the accession has been catalogued. Type the ACC number with a space and within double quotation marks, e.g., "ACC 2007/66", and use the Any Field option.

When using the Advanced Search, type the catalogue reference surrounded by double quotes and select Reference Code (not identifier) in the drop-down box.

Catalogue Overview

Our Guide to Holdings can help to provide the bigger picture. It is arranged hierarchically by group and then by sub-group and so on. Most of the catalogued collections are included in it except for the minor collections group (MC). It is a way of finding a fonds level catalogue reference to use in a Basic or Advanced search.


These appear on the left hand side of the page and allow you to narrow your search results. Use your browser Back button to return to the previous result list.