How to search the University of Aberdeen's Special Collections Catalogue

King’s and Marischal College Archives

The King’s College and Marischal College Archives have been extensively re-catalogued. The King’s College Archive now has the prefix of KINGS, rather than MSK and individual reference numbers have now changed. The Marischal College Archive now has the prefix of MARISCHAL, rather than MSM and individual reference numbers have now changed. The MSK and MSM references have been retained as ‘alt ref’ numbers. If you have an old MSK or MSM reference number please input it into the ‘any text’ search field and the corresponding records will be shown. If you wish to see the entire King’s or Marischal College Archive catalogue please input either KINGS* or MARISCHAL* into the ‘ref no’ search field.

Simple searching

Searching the Any Text field searches all text fields within the catalogue. This is fast but may return unwanted records. You can use an asterisk (*) as a wildcard to broaden a search, eg archaeolog* will find archaeology, archaeological and archaeologist. To search for a keyword or phrase within a specific collection, please enter an asterisk* sign after the collection reference number (for example, MS 3175*) in the Ref No field, and type your keyword or phrase in the Any Text box.

Searching the RefNo field displays all records with 'reference numbers' matching the search string. For instance searching for MS 3290 returns all records in the Papers of Robert Laws of Livingstonia, and Amelia Laws. This is useful if you know part or all of the alphanumeric reference number assigned to a collection or its component. Please note that the referencing convention used at the University of Aberdeen follows the format of MS or MSU followed by a space and the collection number, eg, MS 100, MSU 400. Please note that the referencing convention used for the KINGS and MARISCHAL College collection is KINGS without a gap then the reference number, e.g. KINGS/1/1/1 or MARISCHAL without a gap then the reference number, e.g. MARISCHAL/1/1/1.

Search by Title if you know the exact title of the collection you are looking for, or a component word within the title. Each record has a title, which gives a basic description, e.g. C. Davidson and Sons Ltd., Paper Manufacturers, Mugiemoss Mills, Bucksburn, Aberdeen. Any word, words or phrase entered in this box will find a more limited hit list than that resulting from the same search in the AnyText box because it is searching on the Title field only.

Search by Date if you know the approximate date of an event. A wide range of date formats are supported:

1567 Any date in the year 1567
1900 – 1910 Any date within any of the years 1900 - 1910 inclusive
Aug - Dec 1700 Any date between 1 August - 31 December 1700
1 - 2 May 1844 1st & 2nd May 1844 only
1 Jun - 30 Oct 1700 Any date between 1 June - 30 October 1700
1 May 1796 - 30 Oct 1798 Any date between 1 May 1796 - 30 October 1798
31 May 1800 - Jun 1801 Dates between 31 May and any date in June 1801
4 Apr 1945 – 1946 Dates between 4 April 1945 and any date in 1946
early 1900s Any date between 1900 - 1904 inclusive
1800s Any date between 1800 - 1809 inclusive
circa 1565
c 1565, c. 1565
Any date +/- 30 years centred on 1565 (1550-1579)
13th century The range of years 1200 – 1299
early 13th century First 40 years of the 13th century (1200-1239)
mid 14th century Middle 40 years of the 14th century (1330 – 1369)
late 16th century Last 40 years of the 16th century (1560-1599)

You can also combine searches in different fields to refine your search results.

Interpreting results

Results are displayed in hit lists of 50 items to a page and are sorted by reference number. If you wish the hit list to be displayed alphabetically by title or in date order, click the blue Title or Date column headings. Use the Next, Prev, First and Last buttons to move through a hit list.

You can then view the more detailed document descriptions by clicking on the hit list numbers on the left of screen; each display will provide contextual information about the record at the top of the screen (e.g. name of the collection in which the record is found and other levels of description); it also gives the reference number (RefNo) which you must quote in order to make any request to consult a document.

Navigating and browsing the catalogues of individual collections

If you then wish to see any record within the context of its own catalogue, click on the highlighted RefNo. You will be taken to the branch of the catalogue tree structure where the record is located. Click on the yellow file icons to expand and close up the tree structure and to view other branches of the catalogue.

You can select the red BEGIN A NEW SEARCH button at any time to make another search.

Please contact us ( if you have questions or would like individual assistance.