Brief guide to searching

There are two main ways to search the database, quick search and advanced search. Please don't be put off by the name Advanced Search; this is often the quickest and easiest way to find what you are looking for.

Quick search

A quick search can be performed by typing a word or words into the ‘Search’ box at the top right-hand side on the Home page.

This option only searches in specific fields. These are title, object name and the description/brief description fields in the catalogue database.

If you can’t find what you are looking for, try using the ‘Advanced Search’ option

Advanced search

To begin an advanced search, click on the 'Advanced Search' button on the left hand menu.

The advanced search enables you to choose and combine fields to search in. You can be more precise about the results that you get from your search. In the advanced search you can search the following fields.

  • Any text
  • Item Title
  • Item Description
  • Related Person
  • Brief Description
  • Object Number
  • Date
  • Repository
  • Unique Number
Refine search criteria

The search fields ‘Any text’ ‘Item Title’ and ‘Item Description’ ‘Related Person’ ‘Repository’ and ‘Unique Number’ give you the option to ‘refine search criteria’.

There are three ways to refine the search option:
  • With all the words (to search only for records that contain all of your search terms)
  • With at least one of the words (to search for records that contain at least one, but not necessarily all, of your search terms)
  • Without the words (exclude from your search certain words or phrases that you are not interested in and that might otherwise be called up by the search criteria that you have chosen
Any text

Use this to search all text (rather than numbers) in all fields in the catalogue. It is likely to retrieve the largest number of results. Remember double quotation marks can be used to search for an exact phrase (so that the words appear next to each other in the text), e.g. "Charles Lees".

Item Title

Enter the title of item here to search the title field of entries in the catalogue. This is useful for searching for the titles of books in the local studies collection.

Item Description

This is used in the catalogue entry to expand on details in the Title field therefore many contain more names of places and people and sometimes a summary of the document.

Related Person

This will search the across author, artist, maker and associated person fields.


You can narrow your search down to a particular date, or a date range (e.g. 1837, 1910-1950, or 18th cent.). All months will be abbreviated to their first three letters (e.g. Jan, Feb, Sep etc)


This is a drop-down box and will allow you to search the records of either Oldham Local Studies and Archives or Gallery Oldham.

Unique Number

If you know the unique number (the Reference Number or Object Number) of a particular collection or the specific item you require, you can enter it in this search field

Using Search Results

How do I sort the records in the 'search results' hitlist?

By default, records in a hitlist are presented in Unique Number order. However, you can also sort the records by Title or by Date by clicking on the appropriate column heading above the displayed records.

How can I find out more information about an entry displayed in the 'search results' hitlist?

By clicking anywhere on the text of a particular entry, the full description and all other relevant information will be displayed. If the item is part of the archive collection click on the Unique Number (to see the record in its hierarchical context (i.e. how it relates to other records in the collection) and to see other records in the same catalogue.


If a catalogue entry contains a digitised image, click the thumbnail link to view the image

Search tips

Wildcard options

You may find more results by replacing letters at the beginning, middle or end of a search term with an asterisk. For example, searching for 'baptis*' (rather than 'baptism') will find records containing words such as ‘baptism’, ‘Baptist’, ‘baptisms’ and ‘baptisings’.

The asterisk can be used in both quick and advanced searches and in any search field

Boolean searches

You may wish to combine search terms in your quick searches using the Boolean "and, or, not" searching options:

• + represents Boolean And, meaning the search result must include this word • - represents Boolean Not, meaning the search result must exclude this word • | represents Boolean Or, meaning the search result may include this word
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