Roud Folk Song Index: Wikis


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The Roud Folk Song Index is a database of 300,000 references to over 21,600 songs that have been collected from oral tradition in the English language from all over the world. It is compiled by Steve Roud, a librarian in the London Borough of Croydon.

Roud's Index is a combination of the Broadside Index (printed sources before 1900) and a "field-recording index" compiled by Roud. It subsumes all the previous well-known printed sources known to Francis James Child (the Child Ballads) and includes recordings from 1900 to 1975.

Until early 2006 the index was available only by a CD subscription; it can now be found online on a website maintained by the English Folk Dance and Song Society.[1]


Numbering scheme

Related songs are grouped under the same Roud number. Older songs tend to occupy low numbers, but songs which are obscure are given higher numbers. This explains why "Sheath and Knife" (Child 16) is Roud 3960. If a trusted authority gives the name of a song but doesn't give the words, it is assigned Roud number 000. "Brigg Fair" (Roud 1083), "I'll Tell Me Ma" (Roud 2649) and "Cuckoo's Nest" (Roud 5407) are undocumented before 1898. The most modern folk songs were still being discovered in the 1970s in the Ozark Mountains.


Steve Roud is the Local Studies Librarian in the London Borough of Croydon. He was formerly Honorary Librarian of the Folklore Society. He is the co-author of A Dictionary of English Folklore (2005, ISBN 0-19-860766-0). Starting in 1993 he input various fields to a database, listing the source singer (if known), his locality, the date of noting the song, the publisher (book or recorded source), plus other fields. In the past few years the numbers have been widely accepted in academic circles.

Similar collections

The Traditional Ballad Index at the California State University at Fresno includes Roud numbers up to number 5000[2]; it includes comments on the songs, but draws on fewer sources.[3]

Max Hunter's collection[4] lists 1,600 songs, but each minor variant is given a distinct number, making comparisons difficult.

James Madison Carpenter's collection has 6,200 transcriptions and 1000 recorded cylinders made between 1927 and 1955.[5] The index gives the title, first line and the name of the source singer. When appropriate, the Child number is given. It is still a largely unexploited resource, with none of the recordings easily available.

The Essen folk song database is another collection.

List of folk songs by Roud number


Numbers 1 to 100

Numbers 101 to 200

201-999 (partial)

1000 to 8999 (partial)

Over 9,000 (partial)

References and footnotes

  1. ^ Roud Folk Song Index from the website of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library
  2. ^ The Traditional Ballad Index from a California State University, Fresno website
  3. ^ For example the Roud Folk Song Index shows 22 sources for "Hind Etin" (Roud 33, Child 41), while the Traditional Ballad Index list only one source.
  4. ^ Max Hunter's collection from the website of Missouri State University
  5. ^ Searchable index of James Madison Carpenter's collection from a University of Sheffield website


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