British Online Archives - Search Help


By replicating as closely as possible the archival structure of the original documents, British Online Archives combine the comprehensiveness of the traditional preservation microfilm format with the convenience of online access. The website effectively turns your desktop into a reading room, allowing you to burrow into each collection file by file, and browse the material page by page, folio by folio. In addition, the metadata enable you to search by category, keyword or date range across one or more of the collections.


Each image in every collection is linked to searchable metadata. So, to save you time if you are logged in either through IP address or username and password, any quick search is limited to your licensed collections. You can, however, broaden your search to include all collections by using the advanced search options. Select from the following for more details:

Quick Search »

Advanced Searching »

OCR'd Text and Stop Words »

Browsing Search Results

Each item returned matches your search terms. These search terms are displayed alongside the number of results, with any complete keywords highlighted in the visible metadata, from collection- down to image-level records. Any matching items lower down in the collection hierarchy appear listed in a table below the general description.

Viewing An Item

Clicking on either the viewing icon or the title, or on any associated thumbnail image, takes you to the next level, according to your licence permissions.

Licensed Access

If you have a licence to view images within a collection, the open padlock icon will appear.


Clicking on the information icon will display the metadata associated with the item, which are based on the Dublin Core standard.

Occasionally, you will find that, although your search terms appear in the selected item's general description, there is no exact match in the related images. In such cases, you can follow the link provided to browse records or images at the level below.