Using the Catalogue


Quick Search

By using the search box on the home page you will initiate a quick search. By default, this will search across the Title and Description fields. If more than one search term is entered it looks for records that contain all of your terms.

Advanced Search

With the advanced search you can search by the following fields specifically:
  • Any Text
  • Reference Number
  • Title
  • Description
  • Date
In addition you can change the search criteria by using the “Refine Search Criteria” option which will allow you to search:
  • With all the words (AND)
  • With at least one of the words (OR)
  • Without the words (NOT)
Hierarchy Navigation

By clicking on the underlined Reference Number when looking at a specific record in the catalogue this allows you to view and navigate the hierarchy view for this collection. Here you can see the structure of the collection as well as browse all the records that make it up.

To navigate this view you can click on the "+" icon and expand the collection or "-" to collapse it.


The phrase “Isle of Man” appears very frequently throughout the catalogue and is not a useful search term for this system.

You can use wildcards in the search fields, so using asterisk * icon will allow you expand your search. Example “parish*” would bring up parish and parishes.

To search for an exact phrase, enclose in quotation marks. Example “John Smith”.


Reference Number – This is the unique reference number that is used for records or group of records here at the Public Record Office. This reference is the most important piece of information to give us when you wish to look at a specific record in person. Abbreviated as Ref No.

Extent – This field describes the quantity of material.

Catalogue Level – This field is an archival term for where the record can be found in the catalogue structure and include:
  • Fonds – At the top of the hierarch is the Fonds level, this relates to complete the records of a collection for which there are no further accrual expected.
  • Series – A series of records within the collection, the Public Record Office uses the series level as the top level for many of the catalogues. It would include a group of records such as a collection of minute books. These could include hundreds of records.
  • Item – The smallest unit. Such as a single volume or letter. If you wish to request a record to view then it is an item you are looking for.

Link to Digital Copy – If there is a digital copy of this record available, this link will take you to our digital repository front end to view it.

Access – Where a record is marked as 'open' on the catalogue, it is available to view in our reading room. Records marked 'closed' are not generally available to view due to statutory restrictions, but it is sometimes possible to make an application to view them for research purposes. More information on this can be found here and in the Access to Closed Records section.