What are acceptable searches?

Simple Search

The simple search searches for words in the title and description fields of the Catalogue database. It is accessed via the “Find a record” search box on the homepage. Type the word you wish to search for into the box and click the Search button.

You may wish to combine search terms in your simple searches using the Boolean “and, or, not” searching options:

+ represents Boolean And, meaning the search result must include this word
- represents Boolean Not, meaning the search result must exclude this word
| represents Boolean Or, meaning the search result may include this word

Place one of these symbols before a word or phrase to apply it. If no symbols are used, Boolean “And” is assumed.

For example:

Railway –Station

Searches all configured fields for the word 'Railway' and excludes any records with the word 'Station' from the search results.

Typing a field name followed by a colon then a search term, means only that particular field will be searched. If no field names are specified, all configured fields are searched.

For example:


Searches for the word ‘Railway’ in the Title field only, whereas:


Searches all configured fields for the word 'Railway'.

It is important to enter search words/phrases carefully to ensure you find the intended results.
For example:

Title:Railway Station

Searches for records which have the word ‘Railway’ in the Title field and the word 'Station' in ANY configured field. Use (double) quotes around a search term to return exact matching phrases.
For example:

"Railway Station"

Searches all configured fields only for the exact phrase 'Railway Station' i.e. the two words together with a space between, in the specified order.
For example:

Railway Station

Searches all configured fields for the words 'Railway' and 'Station' anywhere i.e. not necessarily next to each other or in the specified order.

Advanced Search

The advanced search enables you to perform “Any text Field” searches, and also to search specifically on certain fields.

Unlike quick searches, advanced searches do not require you to enter command syntax such as the Boolean symbols or to specify field names.

Follow the on-screen annotations next to and inside the search entry boxes. These provide guidance on performing searches for records containing all the words entered, records containing at least one of the words entered or records without the words entered.

By default, the Boolean “And” is assumed, for example if you enter Train in the Title field and Station in the Description field, only records containing both 'Train' and 'Station' (in the respective fields) will be found, records containing just one of these words will not be shown in the search results.

Refine advanced search criteria

By default, a search will look for the word or words you have entered. However you can choose to change the default search criteria by clicking the “Refine Search Criteria” option. There are three ways to refine the search option:

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

Searching on picklist fields

If the field on which you are searching is a “picklist” field (a field in which the content is restricted to a limited list) it will appear with a drop down list from which you can select your search term.

Searching Terms or Subjects

The Term and/or Subject fields may be options on the advanced search page.

Subject and Term may link to separate “authority file” databases from which you can select a subject or a term to search on.

To search in the subject and term fields, you can either:

Type a word into the Term search field and click Search
Type a word into the Term search field and click the [Terms] button to the right of the field.

If the term you have entered exists in the authority file the term will be displayed along with any broader, narrower, related terms. It is then possible to browse across other terms. When you click Select, the term currently selected will copy across to the Advanced Search screen. If the term you have entered does not exist in the authority file you will have the option to either go back to the Advanced Search screen or browse all the top level terms.


How do I access material described on the catalogue?

We are open to researchers by appointment only. Please contact us to make a research appointment via email on museums@rbkc.gov.uk. It is helpful to provide a list of the reference numbers of the records you would like to consult.

Material held at other institutions: Some material included on our catalogue is held at other institutions. This information is clearly indicated in the Repository field, and you should contact the named institution in order to view the material.

Can I use the images from your collections for my study or research?

You may use the images that you find here for personal study or research, but conditions apply and UK copyright law applies to all records, see our ‘Terms of use’ section.