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What is on the Archives Wales Search Help page?

This Help page contains information and advice about what Archives Wales Search is, how to search the site, how to restrict your searches, how to sort your results, how to navigate the site, and how to order physical archival documents. 

How can I get to the Help page from other pages on the site?

To go to the Help page from the Home page, use the link in the introductory text.

To go to the Help page from any other page on the site, click on the Help button at the top right of the screen.

How can I return to the Home page?

To return to the Home page from this page, use the link at the bottom of the page.

To return to the Home page from any other page on the site, click on the Archives Wales Search title or the home icon at the top left of the screen.


What is Archives Wales Search?

Archives Wales Search contains information about archival records held in repositories throughout Wales, taken from the online catalogues of Welsh archival repositories via the Archives Hub. 

How can I find more information about archives in Wales?

Additional information may be held in local catalogues. A list of the partner institutions, with contact details and links to local online resources, is in the Directory of Repositories.  

How can I see archival documents themselves, rather than catalogues?

If you would like to view a particular archival document, please contact the appropriate archival repository and order the document there. You will need to visit the repository to see the document unless a copy is available.

How can I get copies of archival documents?

Repositories can provide you with copies of documents for a fee, and in some cases they also make some material freely available as digital copies online.  

Searching Archives Wales Search

How can I start searching the site?

You can start searching by using the search box on the Home page (marked 'Archives Wales Search'). Enter the term you want to search for, click on 'Search', and your results will appear, based on keywords in the database.

The search is not case sensitive, and you can use an asterisk as a wildcard.
- For example, jon* will produce results that contain 'Jones'.

How are my search results shown?

Your search results appear on the Search Results page, with each result showing the following information:

* Title of the search result
* Dates of Creation
* Repository name (where the material is held - you can click through to the Directory of Repositories)
* An icon indicating whether the records you have found are whole archives (Collection = box icon), individual files (Item = document icon) or other subdivisions of an archive (Section = folder icon)

If the search result forms part of a larger archive, the top line of the results view also shows the title of the archive that contains your search result (in light grey).

To see the full record, click on the title.

You can return to your search from the full record view by clicking on 'Search' at the top of the page.

How can I make further searches?

The search box in the middle at the top of the Search Results page displays your most recent search.

You can search for further terms by using this search box.

Alternatively, you can start a new search by using the search box at the top right of the page (marked 'Search all Welsh archives').

How can I refine my search?

You can refine your search in three ways: 

1. Search within the results of your most recent search by adding text to it
2. Use specific filters
3. Choose the order in which your results are displayed

How can I search within existing results?

To search within the results that you already have, enter a further search term into the search box marked 'Viewing ... results for' in the middle at the top of the Search Results page.

For example, if your initial search was for 'Jones', the search box marked 'Viewing ... results for' will show 'Jones'; if you then add 'Aberystwyth' into the search box and click on the magnifying glass icon, your search will be updated to 'Jones Aberystwyth'.

How can I use filters?

Your results can be refined further by using the filters on the left of the screen:

* Repository - where the archive is held
* Subject - including Personal Names, Corporate Names, Geographical Names and other subject headings
* Creator - the entity that brought the archive together, whether a person or an organisation
* Level - whether the records you have found are whole archives (Collection), individual files (Item) or other subdivisions of an archive (Section)
* Digital Content - use this if you want to restrict your search to digital or non-digital material

You can select multiple filters, and multiple options within each filter, by clicking on them. A tick appears in the box on the left to show that the filter has been selected. To remove the filter, click again to remove the tick. You can clear all of your selected filters at once by clicking on the 'Clear Selections' button at the top of the list.

How can I sort my results?

To sort results alphabetically, by date or by relevance, and to alter the number of results displayed on each page, click on the Display Options button on the right of the screen to find a dropdown menu with the following options:

1. Sort in alphabetical order 

* Once you have selected this option, click on it again for the option to sort in ascending or descending order.

2. Sort in date order (ascending or descending)

* Once you have selected this option, click on it again for the option to sort in ascending or descending order.

3. Sort in order of relevance (based upon the frequency of the search term in key data fields)

4. Select the number of results to be displayed on each page 

* You can choose to display 12, 24 or 48 results per page. To move between pages in the list, use the navigation buttons at the top and bottom of the list, on the right.

How can I see the contents of my individual search results in more detail?

To view an individual record in more detail, click on its title on the Search Results page. 

What does the detailed view of each record in my search results contain?

The full record consists of two elements: a full description of the material on the right of the screen; and an 'archival tree' on the left of the screen.

Your search terms are highlighted in this view to make it easier for you to see them.

What does the full description contain?

The description is broken down into a number of data fields, including:  

* Title of the record you are viewing
* Material held at' (i.e. the name of the repository - you can click through to the Directory of Repositories)
* Reference
* Dates of Creation
* Physical Description (the physical size and form of the archival material)
* View this record on the Archives Hub
* Scope and Content (a description of the information contained in the archival material)

Other fields may also appear, depending on the level of description. They include:

* Name of Creator 
* Language of Material
* Administrative / Biographical History (of the Creator)
* Arrangement (of the archive)
* Conditions Governing Access (any restrictions on viewing the material)
* Acquisition Information (where the repository got this material from)
* Note (other aspects of the archival handling of this material, e.g. instructions to readers, etc.)
* Other Finding Aids (other catalogues of the same material)
* Archivist's Note (further notes)
* Conditions Governing Use (any restrictions on using or copying the material)
* Appraisal Information (any assessment of this material for potential removal)
* Custodial History (where this material has been from its creation until now)
* Accruals (the likelihood of this repository receiving further material as part of this archive)
* Related Material (material elsewhere that is related to this material - this could be within the same archive or the same repository, or in other archives or repositories)
* Subjects
* Personal Names
* Corporate Names
* Geographical Names

What is the archival tree, and how does it work?

The archival tree shows the context of the particular record you are viewing within the whole archive of which it is a part. 

The record you have opened is highlighted in the tree, together with the records in its immediate vicinity in the tree. 

To see all of the records within the archive, scroll through the tree. You can expand sections of the tree by clicking on + , and contract them by clicking on -

You can view the full description of any record in the tree by clicking on it. 

How can I print my search results?

To print the Search Results page or the full description that you are viewing, click on the printer icon at the top right of the page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is there no data from the repository I'm looking for?

Data from all of the partner repositories is being added over time, and will be updated regularly.

Where is the Advanced Search option?

There is no Advanced Search function, so searches cannot be restricted by (for example) date or by Boolean searching. However, searches may be refined effectively in a number of other ways (see above) in order to achieve very similar results.

How can I browse archival descriptions on the site?

It is not possible to browse A-Z lists of all the archives on the site or of all the contents of individual repositories. However, the free text search function searches every relevant data field, so you can find material related to your interests by using appropriate search terms.

Why are my results not displaying as I expect?

Although the search results are weighted by frequency and by whether they appear in the Title field (relevance), the other data fields are weighted equally, so you may find that results are not prioritised as you would like. We hope to improve this in the future.

The text of a search result is only visible on the Search Results page when it appears in a record title. If it appears in another data field, the Search Results page does not show which field this is, although the full text appears when you open the record. We hope to improve this in the future.

Search results are not always immediately highlighted if they are deep inside the archival tree. They will appear if you click on the section that contains them, however. We hope to improve this in the future.

If you change the language of the interface during a search, you may lose your search results.


Who should I contact with enquiries about particular archives and the catalogues of individual repositories?

Please contact the relevant repository for enquiries relating to archival material held at that repository and local catalogues relating to it. 

Who should I contact with enquiries about the contents of the Archives Wales Search database as a whole?

If you have an enquiry about the catalogues that cannot be answered by the search options on this site or by contacting or visiting any of the archival repositories, contact Archives Wales Search (

Who should I contact with enquiries about the way the Archives Wales Search site functions?

The site is a National Library of Wales resource, so please contact the Library with any enquiries about its functionality, using the links at the bottom of the page.