Our online catalogue is searchable by keyword, and is one of the best places to start your research. We also have many collections catalogues on The National Archives’ Discovery database and the Archives Hub website, you can browse our collections guides and galleries, or use our online collections to support your research.

We have produced getting started guides to:

We will be adding to our Getting Started content over the coming months, so please do keep checking back to view our new content.

How to search our catalogue

Explore York Libraries and Archives has a universal catalogue that allows you to search across our library and archive collections. However, if you are interested in searching our archive collections only, here are a few tips.

If you are conducting a general search using search terms

  1. Using the drop-down menu at the top left of the screen, select ‘Archives’.
  2. Type in your search terms in the search box. To return the widest results keep the ‘All fields’ option selected in the drop-down menu immediately to the left of the search box. Remember to try different search terms if your initial search does not return any relevant results. For example, if you are searching for archives relating to criminality you could also try search terms such as ‘prison’, ‘gaol’, ‘prisoners’, or ‘felons’.
  3. When viewing your list of results click any item to view further details.

If you want to search for a particular reference number

In some cases, you may already have a reference number for an item in our collection. If this is the case then follow these steps:

  1. Using the drop-down menu at the top left of the screen, select ‘Archives’.
  2. Type the full reference number into the search box in quotation marks. For example, “Y/PPT/6/1/1”.

If you want to search within a particular archive collection, or part of a collection

  1. Click on ‘Advanced Search’.
  2. In the ‘All these words’ field, type the letters that appear in the collection reference number, for example: “COM/*” (include the quotation marks). If you wish to search within part of a large collection you can also enter the first numbers in the reference prefix, for example, “COM/1*”.
  3. Type your search term in the ‘This exact phrase’ field
  4. Under ‘Search Targets’, check the Archives box then click ‘Advanced Search’.