How to search the catalogue

The Keep website allows you to search the catalogues of the East Sussex Record Office, University of Sussex Special Collections, Brighton Royal Pavilion and Museums, and East Sussex Historic Environment Record simultaneously. Most of the records are physically stored at The Keep.

All you need to do to get started is to type a keyword or phrase into the search box at the top of every page.

If you want to know more about how to search our catalogue, click the links below to find out more.

  • How to search the catalogue

    The simplest way to search our catalogue is to use the search box at the top of every page.

    Search box

    To start a search, type in the word or phrase you want to search for and click Search.
    Click on advanced search if you want to refine or restrict your searches.

    Or you can click on Map to search for archaeological finds in East Sussex.

    If you are interested in a specific place in East Sussex, you should visit our “Places” webpage to help you find out how to search for records in that specific place. Note that these places pages are a work in progress so they don’t yet contain a list of all places in East Sussex.

    If you want to search the catalogues of one partner’s catalogues you can do so after your search by applying a filter (see below for help on filtering results) on the left hand side of the search results, or use the advanced search and tick the check box for the partner you want to limit the search to.

    Searching an archival catalogue is very different to searching a library catalogue. The Archives Hub help pages has an excellent resource that explains some of the challenges involved in using and searching archives. It is well worth a read.

    If your search doesn’t return any relevant records then you should first use different keywords or phrases that might return better more relevant results.

  • Choosing keywords

    We suggest that you read our guides on how to conduct your research. All these guides will help you identify meaningful search terms that will increase your chances of finding documents that will be of use to you.

    You should use keywords that strike a balance between being specific enough to get useful results and not being too specific to exclude records that aren’t described with the exact terms you have used.

    If you don’t get meaningful results from searching, this might be because the descriptions of the records you are looking for are too basic to be picked up using your keyword search. If you can’t find any records then you should try using different keywords related to the material you are looking for. For example a search for “Glynde parish registers” returns no results but a search for “Glynde registers” does.

    Place searching – you might be looking for information about a particular place and you put the place name into the basic search field and you get a list of results. These results might not be the only records we have about that place. For example the record P347/3 Baths and recreation ground joint committee minutes (1927-1972) has no mention of Glynde in the record but is in-fact part of the Glynde and Beddingham Parish Council collection. To find this record you would need to find the Glynde and Beddingham parish council collection and browse to it in the hierarchy. See here for an explanation of the hierarchy.

    You can also search for places in East Sussex by going to our Places pages.

  • Constructing a keyword search

    Constructing a good keyword term will make your results more useful. There are some common search techniques known as Boolean searches that can help you:

    1. You can search for either of the two search terms by putting OR in-between them. By default the search will search for records with both search terms
    2. You can put “quotation marks “ around your search terms to find the exact phrase.
    3. You can use an asterisk * to represent any letters you’re not certain of. For example: ‘ye*man*’ will bring up results for ‘yeoman’ and ‘yeomanry’. You cannot start a search term with an asterisk (so e.g. ‘*sussex’ will not find anything). Note that asterisk* searches only find results from the catalogues, not the rest of the website.
    4. You can use NOT to exclude results – so ‘Mass NOT Observation’ will bring up records that have the word ‘Mass’ in them and exclude records that have ‘Mass Observation’ in them.
    5. Specifically for the records from the archive, museums, local history and HER:
      If you want to search for one word, but don’t want any records to have a specific second word, you can use + and – . To use them you just need to type them next to the words like this: +Word1 -Word2 . This will make sure the collection records have Word1 but don’t have Word2, for example: +Queen -Mary will find all records with ‘Queen’ but without ‘Mary’ in them.

      If you see the words ‘No records found’, this means that there are no records matching your search term. This does not necessarily mean that records on your chosen search subject are unavailable, just that you should think about using a different search word or phrase.

  • Interpreting, sorting and filtering search results

    A list of search results is displayed with the most relevant records (those with the search term appearing most frequently) showing first.

    Website pages are shown first in search results, followed by catalogue records. This is particularly helpful where there is website content related to your search because this can list deep links into catalogue records that you may not otherwise have found.

    You can change the sort order to alphabetical (‘Title’) or date (‘Date’) or archive record level (‘Level’) by choosing one of the options to the left of the results list.

    The results page will display the basic catalogue record information and a thumbnail image where available. The basic information may include the name of the item, relevant dates, brief description and will tell you which heritage catalogue supplied the record.

    If your search returns more than 10 results they will be shown over multiple pages. Use the Next, End, Previous and Start and page numbers to display the different pages. You can select to view more than 10 per page.

    On the left-hand side of the results page is the ‘Narrow your search’ section. This is a list of additional terms that group together the results and show how many items from the overall results fall within each group. Clicking one of these will filter the results, only showing those associated with that term.

    You can normally only apply one filter per group, but you can filter on multiple groups. For example, you can filter by the group ‘Collection’ and by the group ‘Subject’, but only choose one filter within each (eg Collection: ‘Museum Service’ and Subject: ‘Ceramic’). If you want to remove a filter and try another one, all you need to do is click on the checkbox beside the filter.

    Much work remains to be done to make these filtering options more comprehensive so at the moment they may not lead you to the record you are looking for. But they can be a quick way into the catalogue if the group of records you are interested in have been optimized for group filtering.

    The groups are as follows:

    • `Subjects’ identifies themes and terms associated with individual records, and there can be more than one for each record. These subjects are designed to highlight important links which can help the user find relevant records in their search. The subject matter of photographs, documents and paintings will be identified, along with wider relevant subject areas. These may include component materials, associated industries, leisure activities and events in history.
    • `Times’ relate to specific time periods in our history and range from early periods such as Early Prehistoric to more familiar historical periods including Victorian (1837 – 1901). Where possible, items in the collections have been linked with the time period they are associated with. For example, an object made in 1850 will be linked to the time, Victorian (1837 – 1901).
    • `People’ categorises records by people and organisations related to the item. These may be company names, artists, trade unions and people referred to in archival documents and photographs.
    • `Places’ identifies place names associated with the item and often refers to where the item was made, the place depicted in a photograph or painting and the place archival documents relate to.
    • `Format’ represents the materials used to make the object, or the form or style of building or monument. For example the museum collections hold items made from materials such as bone or glass; the HER notes places as castle or garden.
    • `Collection’ narrows the search down by collection, identifying which service has catalogued the item(s).
  • Advanced search

    The Advanced Search fields allow you to be more precise in your search by looking for terms in particular fields. You can enter search terms into more than one field to make the search even more specific.

    Much work still remains to be done to make the advanced search a reliable search tool. We are in the process of tagging our records to improve the performance of the Advanced Search.

    You should use other keywords and browse collection hierarchies (click here for an explanation of the hierarchy) to find relevant records.

    You can also use the Simple Search, and then sort and filter your results (see above) in order to narrow them down to what you are looking for. Finally you are free to contact us at The Keep for assistance on finding records relevant to your research.

    The advanced search fields are:

    • ‘Collection’ allows you to define whose records you wish to search by checking the tick boxes on the page – if you leave them all unticked it is presumed you want to search all collections. So you can search all, or pick just one, or any combination as suits your needs.
    • ‘Keywords’ enter some free text to search for and choose how to treat it:
      • All of the words
      • Any of the words
      • Exact phrase
      • Proximity – A blending of “All of the words” and “Exact phase”. E.g. will match “John Smith” and “Smith John”
    • ‘Search for, or within references’ refers to the unique identification number assigned to archive documents and museum objects. If you ever want to see, or enquire about, the original item mentioned in the catalogue, this is the number you will need. You can search on both the system reference (CALM) or our own References (ESRO Ref for example) however you MUST ensure your search is accurate in Case. If you are unsure, please try UPPERCASE first. If this does not work, try a broader search of the identification number in the simple search box at the top: this is more ‘forgiving’ in format and case sensitivity.
    • ‘Search within a date range’ relates to specific historical time periods and range from Early Prehistoric (500000 BC – 4001 BC) to more recent times, such as Victorian (1837 – 1901). Where possible, items in the collections have been linked with their relevant time period and this may help when refining your search. Enter a start year and (optionally) an end year.
    • ‘Title’ will search for your term across the title, object name and description fields.
    • ‘Person, Organisation’ refers to the people or organisations associated with individual items. This may be the name of an artist whose work is held by one of the museums, a company which made one of the museum objects or the person or company associated with a photograph or some other item from the archives.
    • ‘Place’ allows you to search for items across the collections relating to a particular city, area, town or street name. Also, try searching for postcode or place name on the map search.
    • ‘Subjects, Keyword’ identifies subjects and terms associated with the museum object or archival document. These are broad themes that link together different types of materials.
    • ‘Formats, Materials’ such as media such as Photograph, styles such as Sepia, materials of construction, types and styles of historical building or monument.
  • Browse themes

    We have started to create a number of pages that provide an overview of particular theme that bring together related collections between partners of The Keep. We intend to add to these themes over time and will offer a useful way to browse our collections if you prefer.

  • Map search

    Our map search lets you find archaeological finds and documents related to a specific place in East Sussex.

    You can get to the map From the link underneath the search box. The map search displays all of the records that have a map reference (that are ‘geocoded’). Very few of our records have been ‘geocoded’ in this way and so you won’t see many documents appear on the map. However, archaeological finds that are in the Historical Environment Record are all shown on the map and it is a very good resource for finding out about archaeology in your area.

    When you click on map search, the map will show a centred view of The Keep, with an overlay showing where findspots and archaeological sites are located. If you add a keyword, such as ‘Fort‘ or ‘Brighton‘ and click Search, the map will re-centre and provide a map view with a fresh overlay highlighting related find spots and archaeological sites.

    Click here for more help on using this map resource.


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Posted from London, England, United Kingdom.