This section includes information about the archival terms used in the catalogue. If there are any other terms which you would like an explanation for, please get in touch via the Contact Us page.


This is the archival term for where the record can be found in the catalogue structure which is hierarchical. The levels most currently used in the catalogues are listed below:
  • Collection or Fonds level
  • The whole of the collection, organically created and/or accumulated and used by a particular person, family, or corporate body in the course of that creator's activities and functions. The collection level description also provides an overview of the contents of the archive and a history of the creator/creating body.
  • Series level
  • A series of records within the collection, e.g. personnel records within a business archive or the diaries of an individual.
  • Item level
  • The smallest intellectually indivisible archival unit within the series that has been described. This could be a single volume, letter or photograph.
Reference Number

This is the reference of the document. If the collection has been fully catalogued, you will need to state the Reference Number listed at item level in order to view the document.


This field provides information about the quantity of material which is being described (e.g. 2 boxes, 1 volume).

The reference number is the unique number used to identify each individual record. This is the number you will need to request a document in the search room or order a copy.

Some of the documents and files in the collection have old reference numbers which are no longer used as a finding number. All old numbers have been recorded in the Alternative Reference Number (AltRefNo) field and you can use the Advanced search page to look up the up-to-date reference number. In some cases the material has been split into two or more separate catalogue entries. Searching for the Alternative Reference Number will bring up all of the catalogue entries and the Alternative Reference Number will appear in brackets.

Biographical/Administrative history of the individual/organisation responsible for, or documented by, the collection.
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