Below are some of the terms you may come across during your search.

AccessConditions - details of any access restrictions on the material, whether you need to handle the item with care, or the item may be too fragile to be viewed.

AccessStatus - this field indicates whether the material can be viewed or not. The majority of items are 'open' and can be viewed. ‘Open’ means you will be able to consult the material. ‘Closed’ means the material is not currently available for consultation. There are a number of reasons why material may be closed. For example, it may contain sensitive personal information, or a depositor may have closed recent items for a set number of years.

Collection - summary details of an archive collection, for example the archives of a particular organisation such as Lincoln Cathedral, or of a person. A collection-level record will usually provide background notes on the creator of the archive (biographies for people or administrative histories for organisations). It will also provide an overview of the types of material available in the collection.

Date - the date(s) of creation of the archive material. Useful for restricting your searches to a specific time period

Level - archives are arranged hierarchically and arranged in collections called 'fonds' and then sub-divided, if necessary into lower levels of 'sub-fonds', 'series', 'files' and 'items'. The level thus indicates where the record can be found in the catalogue structure.

As well as providing an overview and summary of the contents for each archive collection, the online catalogue also includes detailed descriptions of the individual documents for most of our collections.

  • Fonds - this is the highest level of description, which represents an entire archive collection, for example the records created or received by an organisation or individual. The fonds level provides an overview and a summary of the contents of each archive collection.
  • Series - a series of records within a collection, e.g. diaries and photographs
  • Item - the lowest level of description of material in a collection and is used for describing, for example, an individual letter or photograph. This is usually the level at which documents can be requested for research.

Physical Description - this field provides relevant information about any important physical characteristics which might affect a record's use (e.g. pagination, size, illustrations, inscriptions, bookplates, provenance.

RefNo - short for reference number. Each entry in the catalogue has a unique reference number (e.g. D&C/A/1/1/39), which you will need when requesting information or to view material.

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