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The Full English collections

Roud indexes

Bibliographies

Street lit indexes

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.

Roud Indexes introduction

The Folk Song Index and Broadside Index are compiled by Steve Roud and are included on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML) website with his permission.  The two indexes share exactly the same field structure, although certain fields are more relevant for one type of material than another. The indexes are designed to be used in tandem or separately as the need arises and, on the VWML website, it is easy to search them one at a time or together.

Folk Song Index

The Folk Song Index seeks to provide details of English-language traditional songs which have been recorded in any medium - books, journals, newspapers, manuscript collections in public and private hands, published or unpublished sound recordings, videos, websites, and so on.

Entries in the index are made on a one-to-one basis. If a song sung by a particular singer appears on a record, it is given an entry in the index. If the same recording is issued on a different record, it gets another entry. If the song is then transcribed in a book, another entry is created. And so on. Cross references are given when possible, but users should be aware that the number of times a song appears in the index is not an exact indication of how many times it has been collected.

Roud numbers

Roud numbers are assigned to songs to help with both identification and location and to counter the problems of multiple and variant titles. Thus, the song 'Seeds of Love' has been assigned the Roud Number three, and a search on this number will bring up all versions, whatever the title, wherever found.

The classification of folk songs is far from straightforward and a numbering scheme such as this is a blunt instrument designed to be practical rather than academically sound. It relies on the fact that in Anglo-American tradition the norm is a relative conservatism and that most song texts remain remarkably stable across both time and geographical space, which allows us to view them as 'the same song'. This does not work well across the board, however. There are some songs which are made up of 'floating verses', and there are certain subgenres (eg sea shanties and singing games) which are less well-served by this approach, but in the vast majority of cases the system works well enough to be useful.

The system is based on the comparison of texts; tunes are not included in this equation at all. For the same number to be assigned to two texts, it is not sufficient for them to share the same plot or characters; there must be strong similarities of wording. Something around 60 per cent of the wording needs to be the same for a confident match. But again, there are complications. Texts A and B may be borderline 'the same', and Texts B and C similarly connected. They would thus share the same number, even though A and C may not obviously qualify to be regarded as 'the same song'.

Even within this broad scheme, there is scope for different perspectives. When comparing versions, some indexers give more weight to history and development over time. Others, however, are more concerned with how the songs have turned out, and how they compare at the point of collection. One foregrounds the past, the other the present.

So, for example, the connections between Texts A and D might only be obvious once a common ancestor (or more than one) has been identified. The 'historical' perspective would regard this as sufficient evidence for regarding them as the same song, but the 'as collected' perspective would not.

One problem with the 'historical' approach is that it is sometimes difficult to be sure of the developmental lineage within a multi-faceted tradition when the evidence is necessarily partial and patchy. A problem with the 'as collected' approach, however, is that the texts being compared may be from very different times, and their degree of similarity thus obscured. In general, the 'historical' perspective is employed in the Folk Song Index.

There is no definitive answer in these cases. What suits one group of users will not suit another and, indeed, any individual user may well wish it to be one way on one occasion, and the other way when it suits.

The unavoidable fact that every decision helps some and hurts others can be clearly seen in two other examples. Earlier versions of the Index took more notice of function ad form of the songs. Thus, all 'alphabet songs' were given one number, regardless of whether they were the Sailors', Lumbermen, or others' versions. Following the logic of 60 per cent textual equivalence, these songs have now been separated, because it was really only the form, and the letters of the alphabet, that were the same. But people seeking Alphabet songs in general have had their task made much more difficult.

Similarly, some songs were previously grouped by function - all Wassailing songs, for example, were given one number, as were May Day songs, Pace Egg songs, and so on. As research identifies markedly different songs within these groups, they will be given new numbers.

Changed numbers

It follows that as more versions and more information come to light, numbers have to be revised. Sometimes a song is assigned a new number as previously unnoticed connections are made, or it is thought best to split a group of songs into two. A list of changed numbers is maintained, which will eventually be available online. No defunct number is ever used again for a different song.

Numbers are assigned sequentially and have no intrinsic meaning. The next song discovered gets the next available number. The Roud numbers in the Folk Song Index are plain numerical, starting from one. Numbers in the Broadside Index start with 'V' (see below).

Relationship with the Broadside Index

Once a song has been identified as qualifying as a 'folk song', entries for non-traditional versions (eg broadside printings) are copied from the Broadside Index into the Folk Song Index, in order to ensure that the latter remains one-stop-shop for details of traditional songs.

Broadside Index

Originally designed as an adjunct to the Folk Song Index (see above) to aid with historical research in that field, the Broadside Index has now achieved a life, and importance, of its own.

Coverage

The bulk of the entries in the Broadside Index comprises references to songs published on printed street literature trade (late 16th to late 19th centuries) in the form of broadsides, chapbooks, and cheap songsters. But coverage has been extended to include a much wider range of popular and vernacular songs including, in particular, eighteenth century songbooks and nineteenth century music hall publications. Originally envisaged as covering Britain and Ireland, material from across the English-speaking world is now included. The cut-off date is about 1920.

Roud numbers

Roud numbers are assigned to songs to help with both identification and location and to counter the problems of multiple and variant titles. Numbers in the Broadside Index, for songs which have not been identified as 'folk songs',  start with 'V', and are assigned sequentially, ie the next song discovered gets the next available number. The number has no intrinsic meaning (see above for further discussion of Roud numbers).

Links to Other Sources

As detailed in the guide to the fields, where possible live links are included within the Index. Broadsides which are available online, the appropriate URL is included in the URL field. Where the printer/publisher of an item has been included in the Printers' Register database, a link is included in the PRINTERID field, and further details of the source of a particular item can be found through the link to the Bibliogaphy in the ROUDBIB field.


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...

Roud Index guide

Folk Song Index and Broadside Index Guide

The two indexes share exactly the same field structure, although certain fields are more relevant for one type of material than another.

TITLE1 - Title of the indexed song. Where an editor has given a master or standard  title above a song, but also provides a singer's or collector's title, the latter is preferred.  If no title is given, the first line (or part of it) is usually used.
TITLE2 - Not yet used.
NAMED TUNE - Name of the tune to which the song is set, if given (only relevant for broadsides and other printed items).
FIRST - First line of the song.
FORMAT - The format of the source in which the song is found; eg Book, Journal, Sound recording, Broadside, etc.
SOURCE - Where the indexed song can be found. Format varies considerably depending on the type of source but is either a description of the collection or the shortname for a publication, as given in more detail in the Roud Bibliography. For ease of understanding, use this data in conjunction with the FORMAT field and if further information required click on the Xnumber in the ROUDBIB field which will take you straight to the Roud Bibliography.
ASSOC SOURCE - Details of any source from which the editor of the indexed source has taken the material, if other than the oe listed in the SOURCE field.
PERFORMER - The person from whom the song was collected/recorded.
PLACE COLLECTED - The place the song was collected/recorded, or, if different, the place where the performer lived, in format: Country : County: Town/Village. In the case of commercial recordings made in places other than the performer's home town, the performer's home is given first, followed by the place of recording in round brackets; in format: Place of collection / (Place collected).
DATE COLLECTED - Date song was collected, recorded, or noted down.
COLLECTOR - The name of the collector/recordist, etc, in format: Surname, First name(s).
CONTENT - Brief summary of what is included - Text, Music (ie notated music), Audio, etc. A clearly fragmentary text is indicated by 'Frag. Text'.
DATE ADDED - Date the entry was added to the database; in numerical format 20130522.
ROUD NO. - The number given to the song to enable users to quickly find all versions of a particular song, despite variant titles. A click on the number in this field will institute a 'Roud number search', which will pull up all the database records with that number (ie all the versions of that song so far indexed).
OTHER NOS. - Relevant numbers in the schemes constructed by Francis J. Child and G. Malcolm Laws (Child and Laws numbers).
BS PRINTER - For broadsides, chapbooks, songsters, etc., the Name of the printer/publisher, Place of publication, Date (if known) Stock number, in format:
Name (Location) (Date) No.xxx.
SOURCE-LOCATION - For broadsides, chapbooks, songsters, rare or unique items, and so on, this field gives the repository or collection which holds the indexed copy.
NOTE1 - Used primarily for details of editorial interference.
NOTE2 - Any relevant or useful note.
ROUDID - The unique identifier for this entry in the database. In Folk Song Index it always starts with 'S'. In Broadside Index with 'B'.
SCANNED? - Not used.
ROUDBIB - The number which represents the entry for this source in the Roud Bibliography. Always starts with 'X'. A click on this number will bring up the relevant entry in the Roud Bibliography/Discography.
URL - When an indexed item is available online, this field contains the relevant web address. Whenever possible this is a live link, and a click on it will bring up the item or open the website.
PRINTER ID - For street literature and other printed items this number is that given to the relevant printer/publisher in the Street Literature Printers Register database. This number always starts with 'PR'. A click on this number takes the user to the relevant entry in the Register.
IMAGES - Not used.
SONGAUTHOR - Any known details of authorship; writers, composers, etc, plus named professional performers, plays or entertainments in which the song was included, places of performance, etc as given in the source, not added from elsewhere.

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...