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Frequently asked questions

I have found a document on the online catalogue that I would like to come to Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS) to view. How do I order it?
You need to ensure you make a note of the HALS Ref No as this is the reference that you will need to quote to order the items you want to view.

You are welcome to come to HALS and order the items when you arrive. However, it is advisable to contact us in advance of your visit, either by email or telephone, to order your documents, as some of our records are held in our off site stores and we only have productions from these stores twice a day (11:00 and 14:30). See Contact us/feedback for further information

The search results show two reference numbers. Which reference is the one I use to order the document I want to see?
The HALS Ref No is the reference you need to quote to order an item.

The HALS Ref No is only used for two levels of the catalogue:

  • The whole Collection level (eg DP/1 Albury Parish Records). It is essential to have a reference at this level to enable general research. Records with only a collection level reference cannot be ordered to view.
  • The unit of production, which is generally referred to as either a file or item level and includes records such as a volume, file, map or a photograph (eg DP/1/1/21, Register of baptisms, 1913-1995). This is the reference required to order records to view.

The View Tree number creates the structure in the database which enables you to view the records in their correct context and hierarchy. This number cannot be used to order a document to view.

I've found some records of interest to me but there is no HALS Ref No beside the entry. How do I order the records?
Some catalogue entries have a View Tree number but no HALS Ref No. The View Tree number cannot be used to order the records. Such entries in the catalogue do not relate to individual units of production but provide information on groups or series of records (eg a complete series of minute books containing hundreds of volumes, or group of title deeds for numerous different and unrelated properties in one specific parish)

To order records to consult at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies you must locate the specific HALS Ref No for every document of you wish to view. It is of course possible to request multiple documents, for example if you wish to view a short sequence of records (eg DP/1/1/13-16, Registers of service, 1923 - 1964).

How do I sort the records in the 'search results' hitlist?
You can sort the list of results according to the field of your choice by clicking on the column heading. By default, records are presented in HALS Ref No order. However, you can also sort records by Title, Description or Date.

How can I find out more information about an entry displayed in the 'search results' hitlist?
To view a full record description, click on any part of the record. Then you can select the View Tree option to see the record in its hierarchical context (ie how it relates to other records in the collection).

Use the back button on your browser or click on Search Results in the breadcrumb trail to return to the search results overview.

How to make the most of your visit
Please visit for further information on our opening hours, document ordering procedures, document copying options (including use of personal cameras) etc.

Can I see images of the documents on the online catalogue?
The catalogue contains written descriptions of the documents in our archive. At the moment, only a few of our collections have digitised images attached (eg the Buckler drawings, ref DE/Bg, and the Local Studies collection of lantern slides, 35mm slides and film negatives, ref DE/X1025). We are working to add images to various catalogues, though it will be some time before documents are available.

In the 'What's New' and 'Image Gallery' sections, you can enlarge the images displayed by clicking on 'View Record', and then clicking on the image itself. When you have viewed the enlarged image, use the 'back' button on the web browser tool bar to return to the catalogue.

To enlarge any images displayed when viewing individual records, just click on the image. To return to the detail of that record, use the 'back' button on the web browser tool bar.

Can I use images from the online catalogue, 'Images Gallery' or 'What's New' section?
The images are currently stored as a low resolution jpeg image and in this form you may use them for your own personal research.

Should you wish to reproduce the image for others to benefit from, in a publication or on another web site for example then you will need to contact us to obtain a better quality image and negotiate reproduction rights fees. Our scale of fee ranges from the provision of copies of the resulting work in kind to monetary fees for commercial use. Please contact us for further information.

Why can't I find what I'm looking for - I know you hold these records?
1) Have the records been added to the online catalogue yet?

Our online catalogue is very much a work in progress so the records you are searching for may not be included yet. The records currently available to search are listed in the About the catalogue section

2) What search terms are you using?

Searching the database will only find the exact words used in the catalogue, so if you haven't found what you wanted it's often best to try other related terms.

People's names and place names may also vary in spelling and so you may need to try searching for alternative spellings in order to find all relevant records. When making a personal name search, you are advised to search only on surname.

You can also search for part of a word followed, or preceded, by a 'wildcard' asterisk to broaden your search: e.g. Indi* will retrieve records which include the words India, Indian, Indies.

Please see the How do I search the catalogue section for more information on search methods, and options available (including Boolean searches).

3) The reference is not bringing up the correct result.

This may be due to one of the following factors:

  • The catalogue is currently only available in paper form in our reading room - this is still the case for a proportion of our holdings and we are working to make these collections available online.
  • The reference is part of a span and the search facility is unable to detect the record. This is because the catalogue, although live, may not yet be fully edited. Please try the Any Text (keyword) search and browse the 'tree' or hierarchy.
  • You are searching using an old format reference e.g. D/EP. Try moving the first forward slash along one place e.g. DE/P or alternatively use the Any Text search option. Please contact us if you are still having problems.
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