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How to Search the Catalogue

Simple Searches
Simple searches of the catalogue can be carried out by entering relevant keywords into the search box at the top right of every page and clicking on the adjacent search tab. The title, description and case summary fields of the catalogue are searched when using the simple search function and only results containing all of the words specified are returned.

Searching for a Specific Person
Name and date of birth information has not been entered into the catalogue and so will not bring up any search results. If you are searching for the case file of a specific person, please use the following lists of children to find the reference code for the case file you are searching for. Once you have the reference code, you can then use the advanced search function to bring up the catalogue entry for that case file (see the Advanced Searches section below for more information on how to search by reference code).

Each of these lists gives the child's forename, middle name, surname, date of birth, and case file reference code:

If the person you are looking for cannot be found in these lists, it is possible that their case file is currently closed to access. In these cases, please contact us for further information. (See the Contact Us page for details of how to get in touch.)

If you are looking for your own file, see the section titled 'I used to be in the care of The Children’s Society or was adopted through The Children’s Society - can I see my records?' on our FAQs page.

Advanced Searches
The advanced search function is accessible via a tab at the top of each page and enables you to:

  • Search name authority records (NARs). NARs include brief histories of our former residential care homes, biographies of significant people connected with the organization, and information about other topics relevant to our history. From any residential care home NAR it is possible to click through and see a list of documents in the catalogue that relate to that home.
  • Search specific fields. The advanced search function contains additional search fields that can be used on their own or in combination with the other search fields to carry out a more targeted search.
    • Title (catalogue only). This is a brief description of the record.
    • Description (catalogue only). This field has been used to give a more detailed description of some records.
    • Case History (catalogue only). This field is used for children's case files and normally lists where the child stayed when they were in care. For a few case files this field also mentions why the child entered care.
    • Term (catalogue only). Index terms are being added to catalogue entries to assist researchers. When the ‘Term’ field is selected, a special browser appears with a list of index terms to search by. All case files indexed under the term in question will appear in the search result. Please see the Subject Index Terms section below for further information about the index terms.
    • Record Category (catalogue only). This is a picklist search field. Most of the category options are either not in use or not particularly helpful to the researcher. The exceptions are the ‘case file’ and ‘photograph’ categories, which are a useful way of restricting your search to case files or photographs.
    • Ref Code (catalogue only). This is a useful search field if you already know the reference code of the material that you’re interested in from a previous search or research at the archive. Reference codes can occasionally change, so it is always worth trying a different type of search or getting in touch with us if your reference code search is unproductive.
    • Alternative Ref Code (catalogue only). This field is where older reference codes are placed if a record's reference code has changed over its lifetime. If a Ref Code search is not working, try searching in the Alternative Ref Code field instead.
    • Name or Place name (NARs only). This field can be used to search the NARs by the name of a person, organisation, or children's home. It can also be used to search children's homes by the town, city or village in which they were based.
    • Parallel Forms of Name (NARs only). This field has been used to record older or alternative names of people, organisations and children's homes. If a search is not working in the Name or Place Name field, try searching in the Parallel Forms of Name field instead.
    • Activity (NARs only). This field gives a brief history of the person, organisation or children's home.
    • Year(s) (catalogue and NARs). Enter a single year or a range of years (in the format 1923-1929) to restrict your search to a particular time period.
  • Carry out more complex searches. This can be done by clicking on the ‘Refine Search Criteria’ tab next to the search field. The second search box can be used to search for entries containing any (as opposed to all) of the words specified. It is also possible to enter a word or words in the third box if you want to exclude records that contain it/them from your search.

Subject Index Terms
As mentioned above, index terms have been added to certain catalogue entries to assist researchers. Specifically:

  • As part of the Including the Excluded project, case files for disabled children born before 1912 were indexed under:
    • ‘Foster care’ or ‘Non-Society children’s homes’if either type of childcare arrangement is applicable.
    • Type of disability (including diseases and illnesses).
    • Reason for being taken into care.
    • Reason for being discharged from care, including the type of employment taken up by the child where applicable.
  • As part of the Unexplored Riches in Medical History project, case files for children admitted prior to 1927 (excluding case files indexed as part of Including the Excluded) and some other records were indexed under:
    • ‘Foster care’ or ‘Non-Society children’s homes’if either type of childcare arrangement is applicable.
    • ‘First World War (1914-1918)’ if the case is relevant to the First World War.
    • General medical terms.
    • Specific diseases or conditions.

Please see the Advanced Searches section above for instructions on how to carry out a ‘Term’ search.

Browsing the catalogue
When viewing a full catalogue record, you can click on its Ref Code to see all other records in the same collection.

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