skip to main content


What does the Black Country History website search?

Black Country History searches the computerised catalogues of the four Black Country record offices and the four Black Country arts and museums services simultaneously, displaying search results on one page. 

Black Country History does not search all of the records held by each service but only what is currently available as online catalogue records.  However, these records are being added to all the time so it is always worth checking at a later date.

What information can you find?

A search will display a results page listing the records in order of relevance.  The results page will display the basic catalogue record information and a thumbnail image where available.  The basic information may include the name of the item, relevant dates, brief description and the archive or museum service it his held by.

You can read the full catalogue record by clicking on the red record title.  This will display further details on the individual item including the unique Ref No for archive material and Object Number for museum objects, a detailed description, dimensions, production details and related terms where appropriate and available.  This page will also display further images where they exist.  Larger versions of image(s) can be viewed by clicking the Larger Image and magnifying glass link by the image.  


The search box can be found on the home page and the search results page.  This will search the records of the four Black Country archive services and the four Black Country arts and museums services.  To start a search, type in the relevant word or phrase you want to search for and click Search.  This will return records and display them in order of relevance with the most relevant being first. 

If you see the words No Records found, this means that there are no records matching your search term.  This does not necessarily mean that records on your chosen search subject are unavailable, but you might have to think about using a different search word or phrase.  This is where the Advanced Search facility can be very useful.

Advanced Search

The Advanced Search fields allow you to refine your search by focusing your search terms on particular fields.  This will enable you to use a more specific search criteria which can be especially helpful when you are researching a particular subject.  You can enter search terms into more than one field to refine the search even further. 

`Partner’ allows you to define whose records you wish to search by choosing from drop down menu.  You can specify to search for records across all the museum and archive partners or just one service in particular.

`Title, Descriptions’ will search for your term across the title, object name and description fields.

`Person, Organisation’ refers to the people or organisations associated with individual items.  This may be the name of an artist whose work is held by one of the museums, a company who made one of the museum objects or photographs relating to a local company from the archive collections.

`Place, Postcode’ allows you to search for items across the collections relating to a particular city, area, town or street name. 

‘Times, Periods’ relates to specific time periods in our history and range from geological periods such as Silurian to more familiar historical periods including Victorian (1837-1901).  Where possible, items in the collections have been linked with their relevant time period and this may help when refining your search.

‘Subjects, Keyword’ identifies subjects and terms associated with the museum object or archival document.   

‘Identifier, Ref No’ refers to the unique identification number assigned to archive documents and museum objects.

Displaying your results

Your search results will be displayed in a list with thumbnail images where available.  You can decide how many records you wish to view on a page by choosing from 15, 25 or 50 records under the Items per page option.  If your search returns more than one page of results use the Next, End, Previous and Start and page numbers to display the different pages.

Narrow your search

You may wish to narrow your search results further with a number of options available under the ‘Narrow your search’ section.  This facility identifies records which are associated with particular terms, places and subjects and allows you to view these related records.

`Subjects’ identifies themes and terms associated with individual records and there can be more than one for each record.  These subjects are designed to highlight important links which can help the user find relevant records in their search.  The subject matter of photographs, documents and paintings will be identified along with wider relevant subject areas.  These may include associated industries, leisure activities and events in history.  There is a subject called Black Country which links items across the museum collections which were made in the Black Country, depict the Black Country or the maker originated from the Black Country.

`Times’ relate to specific time periods in our history and range from geological periods such as Silurian to more familiar historical periods including Victorian (1837-1901).  Where possible, items in the collections have been linked with the time period they are associated with.  For example, an object made in 1850 will be linked to the time, Victorian (1837-1901).  

`People’ categorises records by people and organisations related to the item.  These may be company names, artists, trade unions and people referred to in archival documents and photographs.

`Places’ identifies place names associated with the item and often refer to where the item was made, the place depicted in a photograph or painting and the place archival documents relate to.

`Format’ represents the technique used to make the object or the form it takes.  For example, artworks may be printed, painted or drawn.  Archival documents may be handwritten, be in the form of a photograph, film or on microfilm.  The museum collections hold various decorative items which have been carved, enamelled or japanned.

`Partner’ narrows the search down by partner identifying which archive or museum service holds the item(s) in their collection.

A small green box with a `+’ symbol can be seen next to the heading, when this is clicked the various subjects appear underneath in red.  The number in the brackets shows the number of records in the search which share this related link.  These words are listed in order of the number of related records with the largest at the top.  These red words when clicked will display all the records with the shared link.  This is a very useful tool in guiding you through the large collections to your specific interest. 

There can be numerous related links displayed on the page.  If the lists get too long you can close them by clicking the green `-‘ button next to the heading.


Once your search results have been returned you can filter them down and refine your search further.  This may be especially helpful when large numbers of records are found following a search.  There are three filter options available; Images Only, Museums Only and Archives Only.  Click in the box next to the option required and a small tick will appear.  The search results will automatically be filtered and redisplayed.  If you wish to display either the museum records or archive records which have an image, tick theImage Only together with either the Museums Only or Archives Only options.  The Images Only function is particularly useful if you just want to look for photographs.

Browse Images

The website has many excellent images of museum objects, archival documents and artwork attached to the individual catalogue records.  You can browse the collections by using the image browser option on the home page.  This is an excellent way of gaining an overview of varied collections held across the Black Country.  By clicking Browse Images, located underneath the search box, images will appear across the page.  There are many images to browse through and you can move around this page to reveal them.  A hand symbol is displayed as you hover over the images, hold down the left mouse button and drag this hand symbol across the page in any direction.  This will display more images of items in the collection.

Click on the image to display basic information such as name, brief description and related subjects.  These related subjects are displayed in red and when clicked direct you to other images related to the same subjects.  To display full details of the item click on View Details and the complete record will appear with the image.  Some records will have more than one image attached and these will all be displayed with the catalogue record.

Internet Browser compatibility

This site is best viewed using the Internet Explorer Version 7 or above.