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The Churchill catalogue allows you to search for catalogue descriptions using free text, keyword and date range searching.
The catalogue enables you to search for any word in the catalogue (apart from some very frequently occurring ones like "the" or "of") by typing that word into the appropriate box on the search screen. You can type in search terms in lower or upper case.
The catalogue allows you to refine your search by specifying specific terms, selecting combinations of terms, or eliminating terms as required.
Please note that the following guidelines apply to the "search for" box into which you can enter search terms. There are separate boxes which allow you to specify a search by specific dates or to add keywords to the search.
The catalogue will also automatically match similar words ("cigar" will find "cigars" too).
The catalogue allows you to sort the list of references retrieved by reference, date or score (relevance ranking). They are automatically displayed in order of relevance, but to sort them into date order, simply click on the column heading "date" above the list of hits.
The search will look in all the different fields which are contained in a catalogue entry. By pulling down the menu next to the search box, you can restrict your search to specific fields:
People in the catalogue are described by the name (and, where appropriate, the title and rank) by which they were known at the time of the creation of the document concerned, with any earlier or later names given in square brackets (e.g. John Seely [later Lord Mottistone]).
For untitled people, the usual form is the main forename in full (where this can readily be established) followed by the surname, except in a few cases where a person is better known by some other form such as their forename initials (e.g. F E Smith rather than Frederick Smith).
Titled people below the rank of Duke or Duchess (i.e. barons, earls and marquises) are described as Lord or Lady followed by the title name (e.g. "Lord Crewe" rather than "the Earl of Crewe"), whilst different holders of the same title are distinguished by a number (e.g. "10th Duke of Marlborough"). Women holding rank by marriage are given in the form "Cornelia, Lady Wimborne", whilst those holding rank by birth are given in the form "Lady Sarah Spencer Churchill".
If you are not sure about the form of a name, just type in the part (for instance the surname or the main part of a title) that you are sure about. Separate the elements in a double-barrelled surname with a space rather than a hyphen.
The most important exceptions to these rules are Sir Winston Churchill himself, who is always given as WSC, Clementine Churchill, who is CSC, and Sir Winston's mother, all references to whom can be retrieved by Lady Randolph Churchill, although her later married names are also given where appropriate. Below is a list of the other main exceptions.
Using keywords in your search can help you in three ways:
You can bring together records which contain information about the same subject but which do not all refer to it in exactly the same way. For instance, descriptions mentioning "votes for women" or "suffragettes" can all be retrieved using the keyword "womens suffrage".
You can bring together records relating to different aspects of a general theme. For instance, letters on railways and roads can all be retrieved using the keyword "transport".
You can search for records which contain substantial information about the subject, organisation or place you are interested in, excluding those which only refer to it in passing. This is particularly useful for place names.
The keywords are arranged in four sections: Corporate for names of corporate bodies or organisations such as the Home Office; Geographic for place names; Personal for the names of individuals; and UKAT for subjects or events such as colonialism or the Second World War (1939-1945).
By default, the catalogue will find references which do include any or all of the keywords specified. If you remove the tick next to "required", you can widen your search and find records which contain either the keyword(s) you've specified or any other search term you have included. To ensure that you find all relevant references please search for subjects/keywords as well as the names of individuals.
The catalogue descriptions are at four levels, ranging from the most detailed (item) to the most general (catalogue introduction).
An item is almost always an individual document like a letter, a telegram or a pamphlet. All items belong to a file.
A file is a collection of related items such as all the correspondence between certain dates. It is the physical unit which is brought out to you from the strong room. Usually it actually is a file, although occasionally it may be a volume or a bundle.
Several sections of the Churchill Papers are catalogued at file level only. Catalogue descriptions often include a list of the correspondents represented in the file. It is important to note that not all the correspondents are mentioned: only "prominent" individuals (i.e. those who appear in "Who Was Who") or those who are represented by several letters in the file (an indication of the number of letters is given in brackets after the sender's name).
All files belong to a class.
A class is one of the thirty six broad categories such as official Prime Ministerial Papers (CHAR 20) into which the papers are divided.