INTRODUCTION TO DATABASES
Databases are organised in RECORDS and FIELDS:
A RECORD is the whole details of the item being described. Think of it like a catalogue card, one card for each item in a collection. So, if the database includes 5000 items it will have 5000 records.
FIELDS are the separate categories of data which we think are needed to describe the item which are entered in a strictly organised way in the record. So, for a song, we will have Title, First line, Performer, Place, Date, and so on. Think of the fields as lines on the catalogue card, each with its label to say what data is expected there.
The database is organised in this way so that the computer knows when, for example, the word ‘Green’ occurs in the title of a song, or is the name of a singer, or part of a placename, and so on.
Some people prefer to think of a database like a table or spreadsheet. Each record is represented by a horizontal row across the table. The fields are the vertical columns, with appropriate headings.
To see a list of fields used in our database, see below.
FINDING THINGS IN THE DATABASE
You can either BROWSE the database (scroll through the records one by one) or SEARCH it (look for specific things). A search is a lot more useful, and powerful than a browse, but is a bit more complicated.
When you enter the database search screen, all items in the database are available for you, in no particular order, to scroll through to get a sense of what is there.
Just before the first entry, on the left it tells you how many items there are, and on the right allows you to choose other pages. This is useful if you want to break off browsing, but return later to the place where you left off.
But if you are looking for certain things (people, places, type of item, etc.) it is much more efficient to do a SEARCH:
There are two forms of searching: SIMPLE and ADVANCED:
The Simple Search box appears whenever you click on ‘Search the database’ anywhere on the site.
This is just like a basic ‘Google’ search. Type in a word or words and click on SEARCH. This will search all the information stored in all the records in the database (to see the list of fields click here).
The records that have been found will appear in short display format (see RESULTS DISPLAY below), which you can scroll through.
The Simple Search is quick and easy, but sometimes inefficient and its catch-all approach can be counter-productive. If you want songs with the word ‘Jolly’ in the title and you type this word in the box you will certainly find relevant songs, but you will also get items collected from a Mr. Jolly, and also extracts from a book called ‘Jolly companions’, and so on.
To construct a more targeted search, see ADVANCED SEARCH below.
This is a far more powerful facility than the Simple Search described above.
It allows you to stipulate where in the database record you want to search
e.g. you can say ‘search for Jolly in the TITLE field only’.
Or, you can combine fields: search for ‘Jolly’ in the TITLE or FIRST LINE field, and ‘Female’ in the PERFORMER GENDER field, and ‘Sound’ in the FORMAT field. This will find all sound recordings of items with that word in the title or first line, sung by a female singer.
To construct this search you have to do THREE things.
1) Choose the field(s) in which you wish to search
2) Type in the words or numbers you want to find
3) (if more than one field chosen) Decide whether you want AND, OR, or NOT between these fields
So, in our first example
TITLE = Jolly
will find those items with ‘Jolly’ in the TITLE FIELD
in our second example
TITLE = Jolly OR
FIRST LINE = Jolly AND
PERFORMER GENDER = Female AND
FORMAT = Sound
You can also use NOT
so if you wanted everything except the Sound recordings:
TITLE = Jolly OR
FIRST LINE = Jolly AND
PERFORMER GENDER = Female NOT
FORMAT = Sound
When you are browsing through, or have done a search, you will see the relevant records, one below the other, in a ‘Short display’ format. This shows you the main fields for that item and allows you to click on the icon to open or access the item, or do other things.
If you wish to see all the fields for that record, click on See Full Record.
In the short display, you can
Click on the icon (top right corner) to open the sound file, open the image, or link to an appropriate external source. If no icon appears, we do not have a sound file or image to link to the record. The Guidance box (on the left) might explain why.
Click on the place name to see it on a map (only click on the first element (e.g. the village name).or go to our PLACES database.
Click on the Roud Number (for songs only) to do a search using that number, which will find all other versions of that song in our database (see here for further explanation of Roud numbers).
Click on the Title to initiate a search to find other records with that exact title (but remember that folk song titles, in particular, are notoriously fluid!)
The Roud Number is a numbering system devised by Steve Roud to help people identify and locate traditional songs
So, all the versions of the song variously called The Gipsy Laddie, Seven Little Gipsies, Gypsy Davy, Wraggle Taggle Gipsies (and dozens of others), under whatever title, are assigned Roud 1.
The number can be used internally in the Sussex Traditions website, or to find versions from elsewhere in the country, see the full Roud Indexes on the EFDSS website: www.vwml.org.
Laws and Child numbers refer to similar, but more restricted, systems devised by George Malcolm Laws and Francis James Child.
How do I find just the photographs or just the sound recordings, or just the articles, etc.?
In the Advanced Search, choose the FORMAT field and a drop-down box will give you options to choose from.
How do I find just the songs, or just the customs, or just the superstitions, etc.?
In the Advanced Search, choose the BROAD CATEGORY field and type in what you are looking for [see list of Broad Categories here] .
How do I find just the items with written notation of the music, or just the ones with written texts, etc.?
In the Advanced Search, choose the CONTENTS field and a drop-down box will give you options to choose from.
FIELDS IN THE DATABASE
Used mainly for songs: the first line of the song.
AUTHOR / COMPOSER
The author of the item, when known.
The name of the person who songs the song, plays the tune, tells the story, etc., or who provides the information (in which case ‘informant’ would be the more usual term).
Entered in the format: Surname, First name(s)
The sex of the performer.
TOWN VILLAGE OR CITY
Three fields which denote the place in which the item was recorded, or, if more useful, the place where the ‘performer’ lived or was mainly associated with. So, for example, a recording of George Belton in a London folk club is not listed as ‘London’ but as the place where George lived in Sussex.
The person who ‘collected’ the material. Normally the person who wrote it down or recorded it, but occasionally the person who instigated or commissioned that ‘collecting’ activity.
The place where the original item can be found – either in an archive or library collection, in a book, on a commercial recording, and so on.
Any additional information thought desirable or useful
The ‘medium’ in which the item appears: e.g. as a sound recording, a manuscript, a photograph, etc. If you choose this field in the Advanced Search, a drop-down list will provide all the permissible choices.
SUSSEX TRADITIONS ID
A running number to give each entry a unique identity. In the format SXT000
PLACES DATABASE to come
PEOPLE DATABASE to come