How do I search the catalogue?

This catalogue can be searched in a variety of ways to find records that are held at Bristol Archives. Click on the links below to jump to a particular section.

Quick and advanced search

  • Quick search

  • The quick search box at the top of every page allows you to search the entire catalogue using a single search term. This may produce a long list of results.
  • Advanced search

  • The advanced search page allows you to enter a combination of search terms, which can produce a shorter, more relevant set of results.

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Using a 'wild card' search

You may find more results by replacing letters at the beginning, middle or end of a search term with an asterisk. For example, searching for 'baptis*' (rather than 'baptism') will find records containing words such as ‘baptism’, ‘Baptist’, ‘baptisms’ and ‘baptisings’.

The asterisk can be used in both quick and advanced searches and in any search field except 'level'.

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Using advanced search

Refine search criteria

Clicking 'Refine search criteria' allows you to search for catalogue entries using three options:
  • With all the words you enter
  • With at least one of the words you enter
  • Without the words you enter
Using these search fields can produce more precise results. You may wish to also use the 'wild card' asterisk (see above) to make sure that you find all the material related to your subject. To return to the basic 'any text' search, click 'Standard search criteria'.

Searching by 'RefNo'

Use this field if you know the reference number for the material you need. RefNos must be entered exactly as they are written. The 'wild card' asterisk (see above) allows you to search using only part of the RefNo.

Searching by 'Date'

Allows you to search for records by a specific date (e.g. 1850) or a date range or period (e.g. 1848-1852, c1850, 1850s, about 1850, 19th century).

Searching by 'Level'

Archival records are catalogued in a hierarchical structure which generally reflects how the organisation or individual created the records. By using the 'Level' field, you can search for entire collections, part of a collection or individual items.

Please note that when ordering archives for consultation, you are likely to require individual documents or groups of documents, rather than an entire collection.

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Using search results

List of search results

Search results are shown as a list of catalogue entries. The number of entries displayed on each page can be increased using the drop-down option shown above the date column. To move between pages of results, use the ‘First’, ‘Previous’, ‘Next’ and ‘Last’ links. Click any result to see its full catalogue description.

Catalogue descriptions and hierarchy

Each catalogue entry shows the complete description available for an item or group of items. By clicking the RefNo, you can view the catalogue hierarchy and see how that record fits into the collection to which it belongs.

From there, you can move around the collection hierarchy by clicking on the titles of records or clicking the + symbols to expand sections of the catalogue. Please note that some collections contain thousands of entries, so the hierarchy may take some time to open.


If a catalogue entry contains a digitised image, click the thumbnail image to view a larger version. Copies of images can be purchased from Bristol Archives but should not be published without our permission as copyright legislation, permission charges and other restrictions may apply.

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Access restrictions

Unfit for production

Records marked ‘unfit for production’ or ‘UFP’ are too fragile to be handled. Wherever possible, our staff will tell you about the information they contain or whether other versions are available, such as transcriptions or microfilm copies.

Closed records

Items marked ‘restricted’ in the 'AccessStatus' field are currently closed, either at the request of the depositor or in accordance with legislation.

Please contact us if you require further information about any of our records.

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