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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.


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).