How do I search the database?

Using the Basic Search option
A basic search can be conducted using the basic search box at the top of the home page.

This basic search is useful for a general search, but if there is something in particular you are looking for then the advanced search may be more appropriate as there are more categories to fill in. This basic search is a free text box so you can type in words or numbers. This search option will then look in all fields in all the entries in the catalogue to find matches

Remember: The more detail you put in, or the more specific your search terms, the fewer entries your search will retrieve.

Using the Advanced search option
The advanced search allows you to be more precise with your search. Many of the search fields have the option to ‘refine search criteria’. If you select this option you will be able to conduct a more specific search.

For example if you type in the words ‘West Riding County Council’ into the any text field and you use the refine search criteria you will be able to search for results that:

  • Contain all the words you have typed in [‘with all the words’] so only records which fully contain the words ‘West Riding County Council’ will be shown in your search results
  • Contain one or more of the words you have typed in [‘with at least one of the words’] so records which contain any of the words ‘West Riding County Council’ will be shown in your search results
  • Do not contain specific words [‘without the words’] so only records that do not contain the words ‘West Riding County Council’ will be shown in your search results

Explanation of terms in the search results
Once you have conducted your search the results will be listed showing Title, Location of Archives [Repository], Date and catalogue Finding Number for each entry found. If you wish to sort your search results you can click on the relevant heading and the results will be sorted by this field. For example, if you click on the ‘Date’ heading, your results will be sorted by date from the earliest to the most recent.

Click on an individual entry if you would like to look at it in more detail.

If you click on an individual entry the title of the Collection the entry belongs to will be given at the top of the results page along with its finding number and below this you will see where the entry fits within its collection.

For a description of the fields shown in the results page, please see the Glossary

Advanced Persons Search fields
At present the West Yorkshire Archive Service does not use the Persons database so this option is not searchable at this time.

Advanced Places Search fields
This allows you to search the place name index and once you have found a specific place you can see if any entries in our catalogue have been linked to this place.

If your search is unsuccessful
If your search produces no hits there could be a number of reasons for this:

  • We may not hold the records you are interested in [for example they relate to places outside the geographical area our offices cover or the records have not been deposited with us.
  • You could be too detailed in your search - remember most of our collections are only entered in at collection level rather than item level, this means if you are looking for one specific item and a search does not produce it, we may still have the item as it may be part of a collection that is not fully listed or has not been put onto the catalogue to individual item level yet.
  • You may need to check the spelling as often modern spellings of names and places etc differ to earlier spellings and the earlier spelling may have been used when describing the collection. If this is a possibility and you are unsure of how a word may be spelt [for example 'honour' and 'honor' you could use the wildcard [see below for more information on wildcards]

Is there anything further I can do if my search still does not produce anything?

contact us we may still be able to help you find what you are looking for either by directing you to the record office which covers the geographical area you are interested in or by checking further into our collections to see if we hold something that is not mentioned on our search catalogue.

See wildcards

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