Help: Advanced Search

The Advanced Search form can be used to search archival descriptions only. It is a useful way of reducing over-large result lists by combining search terms and date filters. It may seem complicated at first but you can build specific queries which can be bookmarked for re-use later. For some examples see our Set Searches.

Advanced search form

Enter a word or phrase in the search box and select which field to search. Options are:

To add another word or phrase, click on the 'Add new criteria' button. This will add another row. Criteria options are:

  • AND: finds descriptions containing both terms, e.g., Gaywood AND school
  • OR: finds descriptions containing either term, e.g., Gaywood OR school
  • NOT: finds descriptions containing the first term but not the other, e.g., Gaywood NOT school

Dates are a good way of limiting a large result list.

Advanced search form date options

Dates can be a range such as 1700 to 1800 or specific such as 7 July 1888. Enter a Start and End date in the format yyyy-mm-dd, e.g., 1700-01-01 and 1800-12-31 or 1888-07-07 and 1888-07-07.

Use the Exact and Overlapping options to specify how the date range returns results. "Exact" means that the start and end dates of descriptions returned must fall entirely within the date range entered. "Overlapping" means that any description whose start or end dates touch or overlap the target date range will be returned, e.g., a description with dates 1500-1650 will be included in the result list of a search for 1600-1700.


  • Phrases must be in double quotes, e.g., "North Walsham", "Estate map", "E.W. Cooke".
  • For personal names try "forename surname" first and then "surname, forename" - note the space and comma.
  • Document references must be in double quotes with a space between the alphabetical prefix and the rest of the reference, e.g., "C/GP 13/3", not "C/GP13/3" or "C/GP/13/3". 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" with each option.
  • For wildcards 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, e.g., Gayw??d or G?y?ood. Useful for uncertain spellings.
  • Search words or phrases can be in upper or lower case.