Advanced search
Click on Advanced Search to search on one or any combination of the following fields:

  • Any text – you can enter one or more words. If you enter more than one word such as John Smith, the search will return records which contain both John and Smith but these terms may not always appear next to each other in the text. If you want to search on the phrase John Smith, enter the text with double quotation marks, "John Smith". You can use the asterisk symbol as a 'wildcard' to widen your search. For example the search term john* will return records with John, John's, Johnson, Johnston etc. Similary the search term *bert, will return Albert, Egbert, Robert etc and the search term b*er would return brother, butcher, butler, baker etc.
  • Archive centre – select one option to limit results to records held at just one of our four offices
  • Reference number – enter either a full archive reference, for example SMBWH or YPR 12/1. Use the wildcard to widen the search for more records with the same or similar reference, for example YPR 12*
  • Collection title – enter search terms here to search title field only, or a known Collection title to return a relevant record, such as Whitehaven Borough Council
  • Date – limit your search to records which will cover a specific date, year, or date span. You can enter a particular date such as 11 January 1900 in full, or as 11/01/1900 or as 11 Jan 1900 or just the single year 1900. Enter span dates as Jan-Jun 1900, 1870-1913.
  • Collection level – select an option to limit your search to just one part of the hierarchy of a collection. See our 'Glossary' page for more information on how this works.

Extra search options
By default, a search will look for any records with all the term(s) you have entered. However you can choose to change the default search criteria by clicking “Extra search options” under Any text or Collection title. There are three ways to refine the search option:

With all the words = boolean AND search; for example John Smith will return all records containing both John and Smith
With at least one of the words = boolean OR search; for example John Smith will return all records containing John or Smith or both John and Smith
Without the words = boolean NOT; use to exclude unwanted returns from search terms entered in other search fields  

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