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About Searching: More help with using and understanding Historic England Archive

Advice about searching

How searching works: overview
Rules for free-text searching
Which data fields are searched?

Which data fields are searched?

Quick Search

Quick Search looks in all of the following data fields: Reference No. Title Place Format [e.g. photograph] Description [of the archive item or collection] People/Organisations [e.g. photographer] Keywords [e.g. baroque, staircase, hillfort]

Tip: Fewer words in the search box will find more results.

Advanced Search

Any text box

This looks in exactly the same fields as Quick Search (see above).

All other sections of the Advanced Search form look for matches in the data field of the same name, e.g. putting York in ‘Person or Organisation name’ will search for such names as ‘York and Sons Photographers’ while in ‘parish’ it will look for the parish of York.

Only a few fields are not searchable, e.g. the scale of a map.

Tip: You don’t need to fill in all the search boxes. More search boxes used will find fewer, more specific, results.

Tip: take care when using ‘Any text’ in combination with other Advanced Search fields, you could build a contradictory search, e.g. if you type Blackpool Tower in Any Text and choose Derbyshire from the county list, you’re unlikely to get many results.


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Narrowing or Widening Searches
Case Study 1: What you might find for an historic house: Athelhampton Hall, Dorset
Case Study 2: What you might find for a village: Bisley, Gloucestershire
Case Study 3: What you might find for a town: Stroud, Gloucestershire
Case Study 4: Finding photographs and documents for a type of building