- Using Collection Search
- What happened to Archives Investigator and Photo Investigator?
- Using Website Search
- What about the online indexes?
- What are tags?
- Where do I start my research?
- What's the Magazine?
- Is the Shop new?
Website Update: Our online indexes are available again. Copies cannot be ordered from the indexes as easily as we would like yet and we are working to improve this aspect of our services. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance or to send feedback. We thank you for your patience and continued support. There will be progressive changes to the website as we enhance and improve our services.
A brief overview of features and how to use the new website
State Archives has one of the most popular NSW government websites. We serve a large and diverse community of researchers, interested in accessing the State archives Collection, as well as NSW government agencies seeking recordkeeping rules and advice. The new website's Drupal CMS foundation enables richer tagging and categorisation of site content, easier content-editing and publishing, integration with social media, and a new online shop. The new style guide for the website is modern, clear, mobile-responsive, and accessible.
Using Collection Search
Many of our users visit the website to search the State archives Collection. As part of the website development, a new search engine has been implemented which, for the first time, will allow site users to do a single, simple search to discover photographic and documentary content from amongst the millions of items catalogued in the Collection. We'll be progressively upgrading this service to include even more content, including digital State Archives, indexes, as well as the publications and datasets maintained on the OpenGov NSW and Data NSW websites.
Combining our archives catalogue and photos database into one search
Search for photos, archives listings of series and items, agency information, and government functions and activities in the one Collection Search »
- quick access via the search box on the home page
- easy-to-use filters help you to refine your search as you delve into the Collection
- pre-order records for your visit to the reading room at Western Sydney
- purchase copies of photos and other State archives through the one shopping cart
Using Collection Search is much like searching on the internet and you can use wildcard characters such as the asterisk and question mark to broaden you search and quotations to refine results.
- The asterisk * can be used to search for multiple characters, for example child* will search for child, childs, children, childrens
- The question mark ? can be used to replace a single character and is useful if you are unsure of the spelling of a name, for example louis? will search for Louis, Louise, Louisa.
Free-text search vs Phrase search
Become a power user with just a couple of quotes
A free-text search will return results for all words in your query but not necessarily in the order you typed them
A phrase search (using quotation marks around a group of words) will search those words exactly
This example uses a popular record search for Probate Packets (wills) however you can adapt the technique for other searches.
Try adding the subject to your search, for example:
- George Williams death (returns 3244 hits in Records Series and Items)
This free-text search finds all words but not necessarily in the order you entered them and will include other words amongst your free-text, returning results such as William (or George) Langley, William George Young and George Robert Williams.
That’s a lot of results… let’s try again.
Do you know the second name? As above, this will search all words but not necessarily in the same order you enter the keywords, for example:
- George John Williams death (returns 51 hits in Records Series and Items)
As all words are searched some results may look random such as George Henry John Williams, John William George Norsworthy and William John George Keatons. This is not a bad thing if you are unsure of someone’s full name.
Let’s try again using quotation marks
When you use quotes around names or keywords that exact phrase within the quotes will be searched, for example:
- “George Williams” death (returns 1145 hits in Records Series and Items)
That’s a lot better than the first result above of 3244 hits without quotes.
Now try again and include the second name in the quotes:
- “George John Williams” death (returns 5 hits in Records Series and Items)
Only five results!
What happened to Archives Investigator and Photo Investigator?
It was planned that during the transition period to the new website Archives Investigator and Photo Investigator would still be available. Due to technical issues that occurred shortly after the launch of the new website, this isn't possible. Much of the functionality of Archives Investigator and Photo Investigator is part of Collection Search. Advanced Search has been added to provide a quick entry point for more experienced researchers. If there are ways you used to search using Archives Investigator and Photo Investigator that don't seem to be possible now, please contact us so we can improve the new Collection Search.
Using Website Search
To search for website content, such as guides, galleries, recordkeeping guidance and information about us, simply switch the search mode using the "Search the website" option.
- scan a quick summary of the search result
- easy-to-use filters help you to refine your search
- related information appears in the sidebar
What about the online indexes?
The online indexes are accessible via the new website but have not yet been migrated into the new system. This will be an ongoing process over several months. Once the indexes are migrated they will be appear in Collection Search results.
- Follow the tag Indexes to get the full list or browse by subject/alphabetically via the Guides and Indexes
What are tags?
All content on the new website is accessible via Tags. Have a look on the Guides and Indexes pages. As you browse you can follow a subject and find more information by selecting the relevant tag.
If you are already browing a subject, such as Family History:
Where do I start my research?
The homepage is a good starting place. For new researchers and those familiarising themselves with the new website try the quick links. They are also listed on the Collections and Research page along with popular research subject. Follow these picture tags to research guides and indexes.
Where are the preorder forms?
The preorder forms are still available. You will also find them if you browse the alphabetical Guides and Indexes section for Preorders, the Reading Room Guide and the Getting Started Guide. Remember to preorder at least 2 working days in advance of your visit.
Where are the Archives in Brief?
These information leaflets and other short guides from the old website are now all known as guides and are accessible via the alphabetical Guides and Indexes section. We have simplified our various types of finding aids into this section. For example, looking for information on Electoral Rolls? No need to know the Archives in Brief number, simply go to the "E" section in Guides and Indexes.
However, for those who know their Archives in Brief number off by heart you can also access a list of them in the Guides and Indexes section under "A". Here's a quick link to the Archives in Brief list and where the information now lives
It's all connected
We have grouped related information together to make it easier to find 'stuff' and carry out your research.
Browse a guide and related indexes and stories from the collection will be accessible. And while browsing a story or an index the same related options will appear.
What's the Magazine?
This is a new section where you'll find digital galleries, news and highlights from the archives. It's a work in progress as we add more content.
Is the Shop new?
Yes and no. The products were previously listed on shop.nsw and are now part of our own shopping cart system.