Home > How to search


Simple search

The simple search box is in the top right-hand corner of the page and searches the catalogue across the “Title”, “Description” and "Finding number" fields. Where more than one term is entered, the default is an AND search.

Advanced search

This can be used for more focused searching of the catalogue. In addition to performing “Any text Field” searches you can also search on the following fields:

  • Title: search the titles of all the records in our catalogue
  • Date: search for dates in a variety of formats. For example: 1890; 1880-1895; c1890
  • Finding number: use this if you already know the reference number of the record you’re looking for
  • Format: select from the drop-down list
  • Level: select from the drop-down list
  • Records with images and scanned records: enter an asterisk in the respective search box to find records with an image or scanned document, or enter the file name if known. This can be used in conjunction with the other search options listed on this page.

Searches can be further refined under “Any text”,” Title”, “Format” and “Level” fields by using the “Refine Search Criteria” option. This provides the following options:

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

Search for people and organisations

This can be used to search for authority files of people, companies, departments of the Post Office, departments of British Telecom and so on, and see records we hold that are linked to them. This feature is still under development but will become more extensive in the coming months.


In addition to performing “Any text Field” searches you can also search on the following fields:

  • Surname: search for a person by surname
  • Forenames: search for a person by forenames
  • Job title / role: search for a person by their job title, role or profession
  • Parent organisation: search for an organisation. For example: Post Office; National Telephone Company; Port of London Authority
  • Department: search for a department of the Post Office or British Telecom. For example: Film Unit; Research; Engineer-in-Chief's Office
  • Date: search for dates in a variety of formats. For example: 1890; 1880-1895; c1890
  • Type (person or corporate body): select from the drop-down list

Links between records, people and organisations

When viewing a catalogue record, if there are linked authority files for people or organisations, links will be displayed at the bottom of the record. Similarly when viewing the authority file for a person or organisation, if there are linked catalogue records, links will be displayed at the bottom of the record.

Viewing records in context

When viewing a catalogue record, you can click the title to see the record in context. This will show you how the record fits into our collection.

Viewing Post Office and British Telecom departments in context

When viewing an authority file for a Post Office or British Telecom department, you can click the title to see the file in context. This will show you how the department was situated in the organisaton. This feature is still under development but will become more extensive in the coming months.

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