Searching the Archive

When you use our archive search there are tips shown on the page to help you, but on this page we explain the structure of the archive and how to find things you are looking for in more detail. In summary, there are a number of golden rules if you are having problems in finding what you are after :

  • Try fewer words NOT more
  • Try surname only 
  • Try alternative spellings Mc or Mac for example
  • No three letter words – look for longer alternatives
  • Try singular and plural versions “wood” or “woods”
  • Avoid searching on the date
  • Ask us for help


  1. Searching on words

The search engine does not worry about upper or lower case when searching, so it does not matter if you search on “Drummy” or “drummy”.

The search engine does not search on three letter words so “jug”, “war” for example are excluded from the search.

The search engine uses “AND” logic not “OR” logic, so you need to be careful of putting in too many words as each word reduces the number of hits. If you put in Drummie Woods for example and we have entered “Drummie Wood” it would not find it. It looks for an exact match Drummie AND Woods. If you had put in just “Drummie” it would find it.

This is also a good example of the other problem which is of the spelling varying – “Drummie Woods” is also spelt “Drummy Woods” and we may have entered either depending on what we were told when the artefact or picture was given to us. So in this case, you would need to try “Drummie” and “Drummy” and you would find it on the second attempt.

You should be particularly careful with names. Surnames may be mis-spelt, for example “Mac” v “Mc”. First names can either be the person’s full first name : “Alexander” or a shortened version “Sandy” or  the person may have a totally different nickname (a common local practice) such as “Chunk”. It is always safer to search initially on surname.

Dates are particularly problematic for various reasons, so if at all possible avoid dates or ask us to search on date for you.

 2. Searching on numbers

If you have submitted something for the archive, we email you with a number(s) of the record which we have either created or updated from your information. You can use this number to find the record by entering it into the search box.

3. Getting help

Our archivists can search on a wider range of options than the main search. They can also advise you on local variants on names and place spellings. So if you need help, then just email us with your query and we will give you any help we can. Our email address is:

Start searching the archive by clicking here : SEARCH THE ARCHIVE