Searching for Records

Searching for records in an Archive is very different from searching for books in a Library; for example:

  • records are arranged by the Government Agency that created them
  • every item in the collection is not listed in the catalogue or an index
  • records are stored in a repository and cannot be browsed
  • records have to be identified and ordered prior to viewing in our Research Centre

Find out more about the different ways to search on the Using ArchivesSearch webpage.

The Arrangement of Records

The most important thing to remember is that records are arranged by the Government Agency that created or used the records. When trying to find specific records it is important to determine which Government Agency may have created the records. Then it is possible to search for a Series that the Agency has created and registered with State Records.

The Series is the basic unit of archival arrangement. The records in our collection are assigned a series number, series title, a description of the creating agency and its administrative history and a broad description of the content of the series.  This is the primary information that is searchable in ArchivesSearch.

A Series is made up of Consignments (groups of records), Units (such as boxes, volumes, map drawers or bundles) and Items (individual records, such as files, volumes, maps). It is important to note that each and every Item in the archive is not individually described in ArchivesSearch.