The new Manuscripts Online Catalogue

February 17, 2016, by Kathryn Summerwill

A new view: changes to our Manuscripts Online Catalogue

After ten years of faithful service, our Manuscripts Online Catalogue has had a facelift. Our new CalmView website, like our old catalogue, allows users to search over 250,000 records describing our rich manuscript and archive collections. However, beyond a cosmetic refresh, the launch of CalmView has allowed us to bring thousands of records relating to people coming before the Archdeaconry of Nottingham court into the main Name index for the first time. For more details about this development, scroll further down this page.

The new Manuscripts Online Catalogue is a single system which brings together searching, browsing, information, help and advice. It replaces a number of different pages on our current website, and we hope will be easier for users to navigate. Detailed advice on how to use the new Catalogue is given below: please scroll down to find out more.

CalmView was chosen because it is the successor application to DServe, which we had used to present our online catalogue since 2005. Both products are supplied by Axiell, which is also the supplier for our cataloguing system, Calm for Archives.

The Manuscripts Online Catalogue can still be found via the ‘green’ button on our website, by clicking on, or at its direct web address,

Please get in touch with your thoughts about the catalogue, and do let us know if there are any gremlins in the system. Details of how to contact us are in the ‘Send us feedback’ page on the Manuscripts Online Catalogue.


Archdeaconry of Nottingham indexing

The archive of the historic Archdeaconry of Nottingham is one of the most extensive manuscript collections held by Manuscripts and Special Collections. It is a major research resource in the context of ecclesiastical court history, and touches on issues of local church estates and property, parish and community concerns, family structure and individual lives. The material is most rich from the late 16th to the late 18th century. Genealogists make good use of the series of marriage bonds, churchwarden presentment bills and penances. Over 56,000 of these documents have been indexed over the past 13 years, to make available information about individual people named within them, their relationships to each other, and (in the case of presentment bills and penances) the ‘offence’ they were alleged to have committed.

Regular users may be aware that the previous version of the Manuscripts Online Catalogue included two sets of specialist indexes, accessed separately from the rest of the index, for:

  • Individual name indexes (called the ‘Persons’ index)
  • Information relating to the document recording a particular presentment bill, marriage bond or penance (called the ‘Events’ index)

Now, in the new Manuscripts Online Catalogue, we have incorporated the ‘Events’ information into the main catalogue. These records are very detailed for the presentment bills, explaining why people were being presented to the church court, but marriage bond and penance records are not so detailed, and in particular, the names of people mentioned in these records are not given here.

Researchers looking specifically for a name now only have to look in one place. The Archdeaconry ‘Persons’ index is now part of the main Manuscripts Online Catalogue Name index. The entire index of people, families and corporate bodies can be searched using the ‘Search the Name index’ advanced search form.

This search form offers some more functionality for Archdeaconry indexes compared to the previous version. You can now choose to narrow your search by date (Date of Event field) and place (Place of Event). So for instance, you can do a simple search in Offence for the term ‘witchcraft, sorcery, soothsaying or superstition’, by simply clicking on the drop-down list and choosing the term. This brings back 55 records for people presented for this offence or mentioned in its context. However, some other offences were far more common – ‘bastardy’ appears over 2,800 times. If this is too many records to look through, you can return to the search form and add a term to the Place of Event field as well, e.g. ‘Beeston’. This search retrieves a more manageable 27 records. Or, you could choose to look only for bastardy records from a limited time period: putting ‘1700-1705’ in the Date of Event field brings back 134 records from across the Archdeaconry of Nottingham.

Searching for Archdeaconry names has also been made simpler, as you no longer need to search separately for unmarried women or widows: a free-text search for a surname in either the Free text or Surname fields will find all instances of that name.

Archdeaconry name indexes do look a bit different from ordinary person or family name indexes. The data is not split up into Surname, Forename, Title, etc., but is all contained in a single string within the Surname field. You will therefore not get any results if you try to search on the Forename field for an Archdeaconry index. The field Dates of Creation is also not used for Archdeaconry indexes.

Further advice and guidance is given in the ‘Name index search help’ page on the new Manuscripts Online Catalogue (

More information about the Archdeaconry archive is available on our website,

Searching and navigating the catalogue

As before, an initial search will bring up an overview of relevant records. A free text search for ‘ballet’ brings up an overview of 18 records, giving brief details of Document Reference, Dates of Creation, and Title. You can click on the highlighted Document Reference number of any record in which you are interested, for instance the first one, Bu 16/13. This reveals the full record, giving a detailed précis of the contents of an 1863 letter from C. Murray in Dresden to the diplomat Sir Andrew Buchanan in Berlin.

At the top of the record is a new feature, showing where this document lies in the hierarchy of the whole Buchanan collection. There is also a breadcrumb allowing you to return to your search results.

CalmView also has a much better hierarchy browser than our previous version. This displays the full contents of a detailed archive catalogue in ‘tree’ form. You can access the hierarchy browser by clicking on the highlighted Document reference number in any full catalogue record and waiting for it to generate (it takes longer if the collection is very large). It displays the structure of the entire catalogue, and you can expand each series one at a time to see the titles of all the records contained there. Clicking on any of the titles will take you to the detailed record for that document.

If the record has been indexed, a list of the relevant Name indexes (personal, family and corporate names) or Place indexes will appear below. Click on the highlighted ‘Code’ to get to the index entry, and then on the hyperlink ‘Click here to see linked Catalogue records’ to bring up an overview of all the other records to which that index entry is attached.

For more information about how to search the catalogue effectively, take a look at the ‘Catalogue search help’ page on the new Manuscripts Online Catalogue (

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