National Portrait Gallery

Archive Catalogue Help

Search Catalogue: Entering Search Terms

  • Enter one or more terms in a field - terms may be entered in multiple fields.
  • Click Search or press Return to start the search. Use of search fields is explained below.
  • A list of catalogue records containing your search terms will be displayed; click a line number to view the full record.
  • The default sort order for lists is RefNo (Reference Number). click the field name at the top of a column to sort by that field, which will then become the sort order for subsequent searches until changed again.
  • It is not necessary to enter punctuation between terms, and the system ignores capitalisation.
  • Do not enter common words   (examples: as   a   an   the   of )   as the system may include records not relevant to your search in results.
  • The system will treat terms entered in any of the search fields as Keywords (And). See Options between words for how to change to a Phrase search.
  • Click a search field name for more information:

Any Text

  • Any Text Search: the system will search for the entered term(s) anywhere within a catalogue record. Use this field if you don't know which field information might appear in.


  • You can combine your search terms with a year date limit. Always enter year dates with four digits; search dates may be entered in several formats:
    • 1941
    • 1955-1965 (do not insert spaces)
    • 1930s - records will be found if the date field in a catalogue record includes a date within 1930-1939    examples: 1930s will find records with: 8 Nov 1912-Dec 1936   6 Feb 1936-6 Oct 1937   27 May 1936
  • If you do not find records relevant to your enquiry, try the same search again without entering dates.

Portrait Search

  • Brief records for National Portrait Gallery portraits have been added to the archive database and are used to 'index' archive records where the portrait is linked to the archive material.
  • Use this search to find records where a portrait has been indexed.
  • Search by title, artist, medium, dates and NPG inventory number in any order.
  • The number of portraits that have been linked to archive records is small at present but will grow as cataloguing progresses.

Reference Number

  • Each catalogue record is a given a unique reference number.
  • If you know the reference number for a specific record you may enter it here - example: NPG22/4/3. Do not enter spaces between numbers or "/".
  • Set Options Between Words to Phrase for this kind of search.

Record Level

  • Each Archive collection is arranged in a hierarchy. It is possible to limit your search to a specific Level or category of catalogue record (collections will not always contain every level of record):
    • Fonds: the top-level record which gives an overview of the contents of a collection
    • Sub-Fonds
    • Series
    • Sub-Series
    • File
    • Item: record containing information about one of more specific items
  • If search results do not display records relevant to your enquiry, try the same search again but without limiting the search to a Level.

Options Between Words

  • These options determine how entered terms will be treated by the system when searching:
    • Phrase: will only find the exact phrase as you have typed it.
    • And (default option): terms are treated as Keywords - records will be found which contain all the terms in a single field but in any order.
    • Or: records will be found containing any or all of the search terms in a single field.

Options Between Fields   (Entering Search Terms in Multiple Fields)

  • These options determine how search fields will be combined by the system when searching:
    • And: (default option) where terms have been entered in more than one search field, records will only be found if those are present in all fields used in the search fields. Example:
      Any Text = 'exhibition'   and   Dates = 1932
    • Or: search terms may be present in any or all fields in a record.

Refining a Previous Search

  • If your required record is not shown in the results list:
    • Try a broader search, e.g. enter the same search terms without dates and only using the Any Text field.
    • Try a new search using different search terms.
    • Collections which have not yet been catalogued will not be found on this system - please contact the Archivist who will be able to tell you if a collection is held in the Archive but not yet catalogued.
  • If your search finds too many records to review:
    • Start a new search by entering more specific search term(s) and/or limit your search by Dates or Level, then click Search.
    • Widen = system examines the records in your previous search and displays those records plus all the records containing the new search term(s)   (an OR search)
    • Narrow = system examines the records found in your previous search and then displays only the records which contain the new search term(s)   (an AND search)
    • Exclude = system examines the records found in your previous search and then excludes those records containing the new search term(s)   (a NOT search)