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The Full English collections

Roud indexes

Bibliographies

Street lit indexes

Dance and tune books

Sharp diaries

Custom and dance indexes

You can search in other collections by selecting them from the pop up box that appears when you type in search terms. If you want finer grained control over your search, please use the advanced search.

The Full English: available now

The world’s biggest free digital archive of English traditional folk music and dance tunes

“The Full English is possibly the most exciting and significant thing to happen to British folk music in at least a generation… To give everyone the keys to the archive of our common heritage will be an invaluable inspiration to generations of musicians and writers."
Lee Hall, playwright and screenwriter (Billy Elliot, Pitman Painters, War Horse)

 


The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) and its partners present the world’s largest online collection of English folk manuscripts.

Freely explore 80,000 pages of traditional songs, dances, tunes and customs from the golden age of folk music collecting, within the manuscripts of nineteen of England’s most important late Victorian and Edwardian folk collectors, including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Percy Grainger, Lucy Broadwood and Cecil Sharp.

The Full English digital archive delivers the true ‘voice of the people’ through a variety of material ranging from full songs to fragments of melodies, invaluable for researchers, performers, composers and many more. It is rich in social, family and local history, and provides a snapshot of England’s cultural heritage through voices rarely published and heard before.

 

Improving access to The Full English digital archive

The first part of The Full English project was to make these images available, in a format that is searchable. However, as the information on these images can very hard to decipher, particularly if you are not a music reader, the second part is to improve access by providing transcriptions of texts and musical notation, as well as midi files so the tunes can be heard.

 

A word of caution

None of The Full English materials have been censored. The contents do not reflect the opinions and views held by the English Folk Dance and Song Society, or any of The Full English partner organisations.

 

Explore

Search The Full English collections
Browse The Full English collections 

 

Discover

Find out more about the collectors
Find out more about The Full English learning programme
Find out more about Take 6

 

Copyright

The images of the materials in The Full English digital archive on the VWML website are licensed from the repositories which house the original collections. Permission to reproduce any of these of these images for anything other than private study must be sought in the first instance from the holding repository. Details of these repositories can be found here

 

The Full English archive partners

Clare College, Cambridge
The British Library
The Folklore Society Library and Archive, University College London
The Grainger Museum, University of Melbourne
The Mitchell Library, Glasgow
Vaughan Williams Memorial Library
Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

Our archive partners immediately saw the value of this kind of co-operative venture and were enthusiastically supportive. Without them, The Full English project would not have got off the ground and we extend to them our heartfelt thanks.

The Baring-Gould folk song collection appears as part of The Full English thanks to Wren Music who donated the entire digitised and catalogued collection to EFDSS as part of the Devon Tradition project.

Basic search help

The buttons next to the search box allow you to choose whether you want to see the search results as a list of records or to see the results plotted on a map. For more control over your search click on 'Advanced search'.

More info...

The Full English guide: available now

The Full English catalogue includes nineteen collections, the six collections which comprised the Take 6 project, the Sabine Baring-Gould material catalogued for the Devon Tradition project.

None of The Full English materials have been censored. The contents do not reflect the opinions and views held by the English Folk Dance and Song Society, or any of The Full English partner organisations. 

The depth of the catalogue

Given the nature of the material and the needs of the majority of users, it is vital that the cataloguing be carried out down to the level of the individual item - the song, the tune, the dance, and so on. Thus, if a page in the manuscript contains three or four songs (as is often the case), it is necessary to make three or four catalogue entries. Not only is this necessary to ensure that each item appears  in its due place and can be easily searched for, but it is also to ensure that the other allied information - singer's name, place of collection, and so on - can be properly linked to the appropriate item.

Searching/browsing

There are two main ways of finding material within the catalogue - by browsing or by searching. The browse facility calls up the whole of a collection and allows the user to scroll through page by page. It is a good way of getting a sense of the collection and its contents, but is not an efficient way of finding particular information or items.

The search facility is available on two levels of complexity. You can type words into the simple search box (as in most general search engines such as Google), or you can call up the Advanced Search box, in which your request can be restricted to particular collections or databases and/or  fields within those collections.

So, for example, typing 'Cambridge' in the simple search will bring up songs, dances or tunes with 'Cambridge' in the title or first line, plus those collected in that county, plus all those items held in Clare College Cambridge archives, plus those in a book by an author called Cambridge, and so on. In the Advanced Search, however, one can stipulate  'Cambridge' in the PLACE COLLECTED field only.

The Advanced Search also allows the combination of fields: put 'USA' in the PLACE COLLECTED field and 'Sharp' in the COLLECTOR field, to narrow the search by both elements. You can request only those songs which have music notation, or only the Child ballads, and so on.

The breadth of the catalogue

The Full English is a particularly powerful tool in that instead of presenting the catalogues of different collections which have to be searched individually, it draws together material from a variety of repositories into one unified virtual collection. But this also brings challenges. The constituent collections are very mixed in terms of size and scope. While the individual collected songs and dances are the bedrock of the material, each collection also holds significant other material - correspondence, lecture and article notes,  newspaper cuttings, and the like, and these often require different cataloguing methods. Users should be aware that they might get some surprising results - a search for a song, for example, night bring up a letter which mentions it, rather than the song itself. Again, the judicious use of the Advanced Search facility helps to avoid these anomalies.

The fact that the constituent collections are held in several different repositories, and have already been organised to suit the needs of the institution concerned, also brings problems for the cataloguing process. We could not rearrange the physical material to suit our own needs, nor could we ignore the numbering conventions and structures already in place. From a professional cataloguing point of view, some compromises have had to be made, and purely pragmatic choices made. There is a slightly lower level of consistency across the whole database than we would have wished, and it should be stressed that those high-level researchers who wish to study in detail the working methods of the collectors involved should consult the original materials and not rely solely on the surrogates here presented as digital images.

In some cases (most notably Alfred Williams, Percy Grainger, and Ralph Vaughan Williams), we have only included the material which is directly relevant to the collectors' 'folk' interests, as identified by the individual institutions. In other cases (notably Frank Kidson), there is additional folk material which has not yet been sorted, catalogued or digitised and was not available for this project. Again, high-level users are urged to use The Full English in conjunction with the originals.

Organising the data

The individual fields are described below, and users who wish to use the advanced search, or who wish to construct more complex searches should consult these notes. Remember that not all fields are relevant to all items. A blank field may indicate that the particular data is not known, or that it is not relevant for this item (eg Printer/Publisher for a manuscript item).

Fieldnames must not be taken too literally. They are for guidance only, and there is limited space on the screen for more comprehensive names. In the majority of entries, for example, the term 'Place_Collected' accurately describes the contents of that field, because the item was collected where the performer lived. In some cases, however, the performer was away from home when the collector met him/her, but it is the performer's home place which is given in the catalogue. An example would be an Irish singer recorded in London - it is the 'Ireland' part that is the most important.

Similarly, the PERFORMER fieldname is shorthand for 'Performer/Informant/Person supplying the information/etc'. In most individual cases, 'performer' is the apt title for the person from whom the collector has noted the song or tune, but sometimes, for example in the case of a custom or a dance, the person may have described the item to the collector but never actually taken part.

Collectors' mistakes

The original collectors did not always get things right, especially in their field notebooks. The spelling of performers' names is often wayward, and place names are also sometimes noted down wrongly.

For performers' names, where evidence exists from elsewhere in the collection or from other sources that the spelling is wrong or debatable we have duplicated the field and give both spellings. For place-names we have corrected misspellings, but where ambiguity has been caused by later developments (eg the major alteration of county boundaries in the 1974), we have again duplicated the field to reflect both the current situation and that which pertained when the item was first collected.

The future

An important element of The Full English project is that it is expandable. There are one or two major collections of English field-collected material which we hope will be added later, and a great number of smaller collections awaiting attention.

Explanation of individual fields

ALTREFNO - Other useful reference numbers; either as used in the original repository or as published or widely used in previous  publications or research.
ASSOC_SOURCE - If the item is copied directly from another source (e.g. a book or other manuscript) the details of that earlier source are given here.
CHILD NO - The number assigned to this song in Francis Child's The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898).
COLLECTION NAME - The name of the collection - usually named after the collector.
COLLECTOR - Person responsible for collecting / recording  the item. This role is not always clear. There can be two or more collectors.
DATE - Date the item was collected, or, in the case of a cutting or other printed item, the date of publication, or in the case of a letter, the date it was written.
FIRST LINE - First line of the song or other item.
FORMAT - The format of the item. Most often Manuscript, but might be Broadside, Printed (item), Typescript, Audio.
LAWS NO - The number assigned to this song in G. Malcolm Laws' Native American Balladry (1964) and American Balladry from British Broadsides (1957).
LEVEL - The level of this particular entry in the hierarchical structure of the catalogue. The standard levels are Fonds (or Collection) / Series / File / Item.
NAMED_TUNE - For broadsides and other printed street literature, the name of the tune to which a song, dance, etc. is directed to be sung or set.
PERFORMER - Performer from whom the item was noted down or recorded, or the informant giving the information about the item.
PLACE COLLECTED - The place the song was collected/recorded, or, if different, the place where the performer lived, in format: Country : County : Town/Village.
PRINTER/PUBLISHER - For broadsides and other printed street literature, the name of the PUB_DATE - For published works and printed street literature, the date of publication.
PUB_PLACE - For broadsides and other printed street literature, the place of publication
printer, publisher, seller, etc.
REFNO - The unique number assigned in The Full English catalogue, structured in hierarchical format with levels distinguished by ' / '.
It appears in brackets at the top of the display, immediately following the name of the collection, eg: Francis M. Collinson Collection (COL/5/25C)
If citing or referencing this number, it is vital that it be given in full, and not shortened.
The numbers for each collection start with a series of letters which relate to the Collector's name:

 

Harry Albino HHA
Sabine Baring-Gould SBG
Janet Blunt JB
Lucy Broadwood LEB
George Butterworth GB
Clive Carey CC
Francis Collinson FC
George.B. Gardiner GBG
Anne Gilchrist  AGG
Percy Grainger   PG
H.E.D. Hammond  HAM
Maud Karpeles  MK
Frank Kidson   FK
Ella Mary Leather   EML
Cecil Sharp (at VWML) CJS1
Cecil Sharp (at Clare College, Cambridge)    CHS2
Frank Sidgwick  FSBW
Ralph Vaughan Williams (at VWML)  RVW1
Ralph Vaughan Williams (at British Library) RVW2
Alfred Williams AW

               
           
              
           
         

 

 

  
              
           
           
           

 

  
        
         

 


         
REPOSITORY - The archive, library, or other institution which holds the collection being catalogued.
ROUD NUMBER - The standard number assigned to the song in the Roud Folk Song and Broadside Indexes. The simplest way to find all the versions of a particular song is to search on this field for the relevant number.
SERIES - For published works, the name of the series (if any) in which the publication is issued.
SONGAUTHOR - Author of the song (if given in the source) plus any details of professional performance, inclusion in stage play, entertainment, etc. (Normally only relevant for broadsides and other printed materials).
SRC. CONTENTS - Indicates the presence of Text, Music (=musical notation), or Description in the item. 'Frag.' = Fragmentary.
SUBTYPE - Second-level subject category of item, dependent on TYPE field; e.g. Morris dance, Clog dance, Mummers' play, Pace egging, etc.
TITLE - Title of the song, dance, or other item. If an item has no title it may have been assigned one, indicated by square brackets.
TYPE - Broad subject category of item: Song, Dance, Tune, Custom
VOLUME - The name of the volume or other part of the collection in which the item is located.
VWML LOCATION - For some indexes only, the location (eg classmark) of the item in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML).

More info...

Help

General

Can I truncate words in my searches?
Can I search for several criteria at the same time (eg a particular song from a particular place, with a tune provided)?
I am interested in finding our more about the research/collection side of traditional song.
I am interested in finding out more about folklore in general.

 

The Full English

How do I simply look through a collection to see what’s there?
Can I browse through more than one collection at the same time?
Is the Full English project closed, or will more material be added?

 

The Full English and Roud Indexes

What is the difference between The Full English database and the Roud Indexes?
How do I find all the versions of a particular song?
Do I have to know the full title of a song to find it?
Can I search for a particular type of song (eg a Sea shanty)?
Are children's games and rhymes included?
I only want items for which the tune is available.
I only want items collected in a particular place.
Is there a way of searching for songs about a particular subject?
I am only interested in broadsides. Can I isolate these in my search?
I have found a broadside. Can I get help to date it?
I am interested in broadsides and street literature. How can I find out more?

 

Roud Indexes

I only want to find sound recordings.
What is the difference between the Roud Folk Song Index and the Roud Broadside Index?
Are the Roud Indexes complete?
I would like to be kept informed of new versions, changes and developments in the Roud Indexes.

 

The Full English and Mummers Index

I am interested in Mummers’ Plays. Is there any material for me here?

 

The Full English and Dance/Tune Index

I am only interested in dance material. How can I limit my search to this subject?

 

General

Can I truncate words in my searches?
Yes, by using the asterisk (*). For example, by typing in ‘Farm*’, you will find ‘farm’, ‘farms’, ‘farming’, ‘farmer’, ‘farmhouse’, and so on.

Can I search for several criteria at the same time (eg a particular song from a particular place, with a tune provided)?
Yes. In the Advanced Search, type relevant words into the search boxes and choose the relevant fields to go with them. If you put more than one word into a field, you can choose whether to search for 'all' or 'some' of them.

'All' is more precise and retrieves fewer hits. 'Some' is less precise and therefore retrieves a larger number of hits.

I am interested in finding our more about the research/collection side of traditional song.
Suggested avenues: Visit the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML); become a member of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) and receive the journal and magazine; join the Traditional Song Forum; join the Tradsong discussion list; see the online magazine Musical Traditions; listen to field recordings on the Traditional Music in England section of the British Library's website.

I am interested in finding out more about folklore in general.
Suggested avenues: join The Folklore Society, and receive their journal and newsletter; visit the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML); join the Talking Folklore discussion list.

 

The Full English

How do I simply look through a collection to see what’s there?
Choose the Browse facility; click on the collection you want to browse through. This will bring up a hierarchical list of the main sections (or series) in the collection. Click on the arrow symbol on the left to open up the list and the see individual items (sometimes you will get another list (file level), which you need to open to get to the individual items)

Can I browse through more than one collection at the same time?
No, you can only do one at a time.

Is The Full English project closed, or will more material be added?
The project is deliberately designed to be extended, and other collections will be added as time and funds permit. Keep your eye on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML) website for further announcements.

 

The Full English and Roud Indexes

What is the difference between The Full English database and the Roud Indexes?
The Full English is a catalogue of selected manuscript and broadside collections, and gives a digital image of the relevant item in the collection. The Roud Indexes (Folk Song Index and Broadside Index) cover a much wider range of materials (including books and sound recordings) but simply tell the enquirer where the item can be found. However, if the item is available online (eg on The British Library’s Sound Archive site or the Bodleian Broadside Ballads site), a live clickable link will take the user straight to the required item.

Another difference is that The Full English includes songs, dances, tunes, customs, correspondence, and other materials found in the collections. The Roud Indexes only include songs. A further difference is size: The Full English has about 50,000 entries, the Roud Folk Song Index has over 205,000, the Broadside Index over 197,000.

How do I find all the versions of a particular song?
First you have to find one version. In the Advanced Search use the TITLE and FIRST LINE fields to search for the song you want. Having found a version of the right song, note the number in the ROUD NUMBER field which designates that particular song. Either click on that number to initiate a Roud Number search, or use it in the Advanced Search in the ROUD NUMBER field plus whatever other search criteria you wish to add (eg 'england' in the PLACE field).

Do I have to know the full title of a song to find it?
No. In the Advanced Search you can search for particular words or phrases in the TITLE and FIRST LINE fields. In the Roud Indexes, a search for keywords in the SUBJECTS field may also be useful.

Remember that many words can be spelled different ways – Bonny/Bonnie, Gipsy/Gypsy, Old/Auld/Ould/Ole, and so on.

Can I search for a particular type of song (eg a Sea shanty)?
No, not at present. There is no accepted classification of songs by type, although there are some roundabout ways of finding some (but not all) relevant material. For example, in the Roud Folk Song Index, a search for 'Shant*' in the SOURCE field will find book and record titles with the words 'shanty' or 'shanties' in them (but remember that in times past they were called 'chanteys' or 'chanties'). Similarly, a search for 'child*' or 'game*' will find many children's games and rhymes.

Are children's games and rhymes included?
Yes. Many of the collectors included in The Full English collected children's rhymes and games, and 'Children's game' is entered into the TYPE field when appropriate.

In the Roud Folk Song Index, children's games which include a sung or rhymed element are treated as folk songs, and are assigned a Roud Number in the normal way, but they are not distinguished in any other way (see also above).

I only want items for which the tune is available.
In the Advanced Search, type in your search terms (eg the song title or the placename) and type ‘music’ in the SOURCE CONTENTS field.

I only want items collected in a particular place.
In the Advanced Search, type in your search terms (eg the song title) and type your required placename in the PLACE field. You can search for a country (eg ‘England’), a county or state (eg Hampshire or Kentucky), or a town/village (eg Andover). You don’t have to type in the whole thing (eg 'England : Hampshire : Andover'), and don’t abbreviate (ie don’t type in ‘Hants’).

Is there a way of searching for songs about a particular subject?
No, not yet. There is no usable subject index to songs, but there will be one eventually. But you can find some subjects by judicious use of keywords. For songs about agriculture, for example, a search for ‘farm*’ in the TITLE or FIRST LINE field will bring up many relevant hits. Similarly ‘Sail*’ for songs about the sea.

G.M. Laws’ book American Balladry from British Broadsides (1957), which can be consulted in the Library, assigns many songs to broad categories, which are reflected in his numbering system. Thus ‘war ballads’ are assigned numbers beginning with ‘J’. If you know the Laws prefix, you can search on the LAWS field (eg type in ‘J*' to find numbers beginning with ‘J’).

I am only interested in broadsides. Can I isolate these in my search?
Yes, in the Advanced Search type ‘broadside’ into the FORMAT field.

I have found a broadside. Can I get help to date it?
The best way to date a broadside is to note the printer’s name and address. Search for that name in the Street Literature Printers Register. Or, if you have found the item in the Roud Broadside Index, click on the PR number in the PRINTERID field, which will take you straight to the Printers’ Index.

I am interested in broadsides and street literature. How can I find out more?
The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML) site includes a number of useful street literature items: The Full English has over 3,000 broadsides, many of which are housed in the Library; the Roud Broadside Index includes details of nearly 200,000 broadside songs, and there is a Street Literature Bibliography and Street Literature Printers' Register. You can also go to the Bodleian Broadside Ballad and the English Broadside Ballad Archive sites; you may also like to subscribe to the street literature discussion list 'Pedlars_Pack'; or contact the Library.

 

Roud Indexes

I only want to find sound recordings.
In the Advanced Search, choose Roud Folk Song Index, type in your search terms (eg the song title or the placename) and type ‘audio’ in the SOURCE CONTENTS field or type ‘sound’ in the TYPE field.

What is the difference between the Roud Folk Song Index and the Roud Broadside Index?
See Roud Indexes Introduction page.

Are the Roud Indexes complete?
No. There are numerous sources, large and small, not yet included, but additions are being made all the time, so new versions of the indexes are issued at least four times a year.

I would like to be kept informed of new versions, changes and developments in the Roud Indexes.
Subscribe to the RoudIndexes discussion list.

 

The Full English and Mummers Index

I am interested in Mummers’ Plays. Is there any material for me here?
The Full English includes the T. Fairman Ordish collection, one of the major English collections, but other collectors (eg Clive Carey and Alfred Williams) also collected plays. In the Advanced Search, put ‘Mummers’ in the SUBTYPE field to find them all. The Mummers Index database is a simple finding aid which helps the user locate plays in the Library’s extensive collection of books and periodicals.

 

The Full English and Dance/Tune Index

I am only interested in dance material. How can I limit my search to this subject?
The two relevant databases for dance material are The Full English and the Dance/Tune Index. In the Advanced Search, select The Full English database and type 'dance' into the TYPE field. Alternatively, select the Dance/Tune Index (under 'Performance Indexes), and enter your other search details (eg title keyword, etc). You can search for a type of dance (eg 'Morris' or 'Clog') in The Full English SUBTYPE field or the Dance/Tune Index DANCE SUBTYPE field. This latter index is under construction, so this field may not yet include all the right data. See also the gallery of Early Dance Manuals.

More info...