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[An earlier version of this text featured in our Newsletters 51 to 54]


Our Help Centre archive contains much local information, particularly for the Alde Valley (defined on our «Maps» page), but broadly within about ten miles' radius of Snape.  It includes several graveyard catalogues, censuses, directories, information on local war memorials, books, and historic maps. 

Our Index can be downloaded from our «Downloads» page, or emailed to you on request from our Webmaster at wm@avsfhg.org.uk, but the latest version is also emailed to Members with our quarterly Newsletter (which lists the more interesting recent acquistions in summary form too).  A detailed list of the recent acquisitions is also available from our «Downloads» page.

If you're only interested in records for a particular community or "Parish", it's probably sufficient for you to
read guidance here on «Where to find things in the Help Centre».



Broadly, an item's purpose is its "Category" — such as a Biography, Census data, Directory, History or source-data Index.  The subject matter is in the "Item-Title", often clarified in some way.  However, as our resources are in so many formats — books, fiches, magazines, maps, papers, various binders, computer-files, etc. — their particular "Media" determines where they're stored, not their purpose/Category or subject/Title as other organisations might order their material.


1st / A 2nd / B 3rd / C 4th / D 5th / E 6th / F 7th / G 8th / H 9th / I
Line-number Category COUNTY PARISH ITEM-TITLE Media Ref-ID Notes Memo


The first line of the Index contains the column headings shown above. The Line-number, Notes and Memo columns can all be ignored.  As published, the Index is sorted (ordered) alphabetically by County, and within that by Parish (community), then by item Title — the third, fourth and fifth columns, highlighted in pale blue above.  Apart from certain magazine and photo collections, not only does it individually list (or summarise) all our resources (and for each relevant community), but for example also points to articles of particular local interest within Suffolk history magazines that we hold, often referencing named families (which would be marked "Fam. History" in the second, "Category", column).  We currently have maybe 1,500 items in our archive, yet there are over 2,200 index-lines, because many items are catalogued against more than one community and/or even Category.  The Index is not simply a stocktaking exercise.



Each index-line has its own Category (in the second column), which can be any of Biog/Remin (Biographies/personal-reminiscences), BMD (births, marriages and deaths), Census, Directory (which includes gazeteers and local guidebooks), Fam-History, Guide (“My Ancestor was ...” and "how to" books, etc), History, History WWI, History WW2, Index, Map, MI's (monumental inscriptions, etc), Photos, or "P-Registers" (meaning Parish Registers and Records).

So, for example, the entries
Fam-History | Suffolk | Snape | Family's amazing escape from flying bomb [Crisp family, Rookery Farm] Sn.Express mag, p6 [WW2]” and
Biog/Remin | Suffolk | Snape | Mill-dweller [Benjamin Britten] wants to try and make an opera: Snape Express magazine, p5” are both within the magazine
History | Suffolk | Snape | Snape Express: Reporting the last 2000 Years [photocopy of Millennium commemoration magazine]” — all with the same reference-ID, “SNAPE2000”, under which they are indexed, and Media of “paper❋” (in the sixth column).  By reference to the webpage “Where to find things in the Help Centre” at http://avsfhg.org.uk/idx/where/, you can see that “paper❋” is filed alphabetically in lever-arch files, to be found in a particular drawer. 

MI's” in this column refer not only to the customary "monumental inscriptions", but also to War Memorials, military Rolls of Honour, churchyard surveys, church record transcriptions, graves, and burial plot indexes.  You'll realise that these can hold similar types of information, but in widely different forms and formats.  There may also be accompanying (or alternatively) detailed graveyard maps, some annotated with occupants' names.

The County and Parish columns are rather broader in concept than their titles might suggest.  "County" includes East Anglia, England, Wales, Eng&Wales, UK, Ireland, British Isles, Channel Is. and a few foreign countries (whose "parishes" include typical emigrant or transportation destinations such as Massachusetts and Tasmania).  Within Suffolk, "Parish" includes subject-areas of interest such as "1953 floods", "Alde Valley", and "Suffolk Regiment".


SIMPLE USAGE (say for a particular community)

The simplest way to use the Index is to scan it by eye, just as if you were viewing a printed copy, or looking up a particular word in a dictionary.  For an idea of the wide variety of what we can have in our archive, please view the several records for Saxmundham.  As you might expect, they are about two-thirds of the way through the Index within the Suffolk entries.  Enquiry this way may well be sufficient for all your needs, if you're interested in only a few places.  If it isn't — perhaps your interest is in a particular subject, such as Poor Law establishments — more suggestions follow below.



The Index is published ordered geographically — by place-name ("Parish") within County — and that is suitable for the vast majority of index-lines.  However, some resources aren't specific to a particular place, or even to a county, so (just now) around 100 items are listed at the end of the Index.  Many of these are guides on a particular subject or First World War histories, but there may well be other similar resources listed within the main body of the Index that aren't of Category "Guide" or "History WWI", yet could still be of interest to you too.  The whole object is to be able to find things, even if they're not in the most obvious place — indeed, there may be NO obvious place.

(Incidentally, you may also find more general Census, Directory and History items at the end of the Suffolk entries, and within entries where the "County" is described as "East Anglia", "England", "Eng&Wales", "UK" or "British Isles".  These are Index-lines where the Parish has been left blank.)



If you have a particular interest, say, in the First World War, you will also want to identify relevant items outside the Category "History WWI' that we've catalogued more appropriately as, say, "Biog/Remin" (Biographies and Reminiscences) or "MIs" (Memorial Inscriptions, etc.).  You can use the Microsoft Excel "Edit" > "Find" function (or your software application's equivalent Search facility) to find records annotated with "[WWI" (double-U/double-U/eye) within their Titles.  They might otherwise include any of several terms such as "First World War", "Great War", "World War 1", "World War I", "World War One", "Somme", "Spanish flu" or "trench" — or indeed contain none of these at all.  Our "keywords", such as "[WWI", therefore act much like "#hashtags" that social-media users will be familiar with.

Unfortunately, we don't have access to the powerful so-called "fuzzy search" algorithms employed by Google and the like — but then we don't have their technical support budget either!  So, successful Searches require a precise character-match, but aren't generally "case specific" — so, for example, lower-case "wwi" is the equivalent of upper-case "WWI" (unless you specifically block such matching).  Also, a search for (say) "port" would find the word "transported" anywhere within an index-line (not just within the Title), so it's not searching only on whole words either.  Likewise, as the string of characters "WWI" itself occurs within the Category "History WWI", that Search would also find all those entries too, but as our annotations are usually surrounded by square brackets (using the "Editor's comments" convention), a Search for "[WWI" instead restricts your results to just entries from other Categories — as also "[census" ignores entries within Category "Census".

There is, of course, also a resource Category of "History WW2", whilst you can search for "[WW2" as well.  
Do note, however, that "WW2" sorts before "WWI", because the digit "2" precedes the letter "I" (in double-U/double-U/eye).  

The same technique with "[maps" or "[photos" identifies a book where its Category isn't "Maps" or "Photos" but we've noticed that it happens to contain a useful selection of maps or photos within the text.  Such a book is "LN2053 | History WW2 | Suffolk | Parham | With Britain in Mortal Danger: Britain's Most Secret Army of WWII (Br.Resistance Org) [photos] | book B | HISRESIST | NL52 Huxley Estate",  which contains many interesting images, including of named individuals.

(Incidentally, there is a similar, but quite unrelated, Search facility in the left margins of the homepage and the main Links webpage for searching for almost anything on this website — but not for events (such as notifications or reports of our talks), which for now is a website-service restriction.)

Other likely keywords have been added to the Index too (or often occur naturally within resource Titles), such as "agricultur" (which will find both "agriculture" and "agricultural"), "airfield", "architectur" (+e/al), "army",  "Boer" (as in "Boer War"), (Benjamin) "Britten", "cemetery", "chapel", "church", "corn" (as in "Corn Laws"), "education", "famil"(+y/ies), "farm", "flood" (typically that of 31/1-1/2/1953), "Garrett" (and other specific family names), "gazetteer" (Category is usually "Directory"), "geology", "inventor" (+y/ies), "military", "Peterloo", "Phillimore" (history publications), "poor" (as in "Poor Law" or "poor rates"), "Quaker", "railway", "regiment", "school", "tax", "tithe" (and there are also a very few maps under the Category of "Map (tithe)"), "USAAF, "USAF", "WDYTYA" (which are usually digital scans of interesting «Who do you think you are?» magazine articles) and "workhouse".  As just listed, to find both "family" and "families", you should search for the stem "famil" — the matching Category is deliberately "Fam-History". 

This selection of keywords is added to from time to time — members are welcome to make further suggestions, and we will try to add them if it's deemed practical!  Also, if you encounter a particular entry that you feel would benefit from the addition of any of these (or other) keywords that we missed during our indexing exercise, please email the Archivist to let us know too, and we'll make the necessary correction or addition.



You might realise by now that you could also use the Excel "Edit" > "Sort" function (or equivalent) to reorder the Index.  For example, you might sort on the second and fifth columns (B = "Category" and E = "Title") of the Index, to bring (say) all the "Biog/Remin" items together, whilst reordering them alphabetically by Title. 

(Depending on your platform and software, a downloaded copy of the Index may be "read-only" for you, preventing any changes to it, such as sorting.  If you wish to sort or otherwise edit the Index for your own use, you'll need a "read-write" version — just email the Webmaster at wm@avsfhg.org.uk, asking for a copy to be sent to you, if you'd find that helpful.)

You could also gather (say) all the maps or photos together by sorting on the second and fourth (and/or fifth) columns — B = "Category" (because "Map", "Maps", "Photo" and "Photos" are all Categories), with D = "Parish" (and/or E = "Title").  To illustrate how useful this can be, we have in fact already done this for the OS 25" County or National Grid Plans series of maps, sorting them by different columns and saving the results in three additional pages (or "jobsheets") within the Index spreadsheet.  So, the jobsheet OS25_CHEST lists them in the same order as they are filed in the map case in the Help Centre, the jobsheet OS25_MAPNO lists them in map-number order in west-to-east strips across Suffolk, and the jobsheet OS25_ALPHA lists them in alphabetical order of their community (so in the same order as in the main Index). 

The Category "Map" identifies single maps, whilst (plural) "Maps" typically refers to atlases.  Similarly, there are many individual "Photo" scans, whilst (plural) "Photos" is often for books featuring the output of photographers such as the nationally-recognised Francis Frith and local man J.S. Waddell

As suggested above, a few more maps may be found by searching specifically on "[map", which might identify useful pages of maps within books, if we've noticed them during our indexation — and the same applies to "[photo" Searches.  These entries will be under other Categories, such as "History WW2".

The "Fam-History" Category is for resources featuring local named families, such as the GARRETTs and LINGs.  Such entries, incidentally, are generally duplicated for each of the communities that are mentioned, typically within a close cluster of villages.

Most of your sorting attempts are likely to involve the second (Category) column, but you can also sort the Index on the seventh column (G = Ref-ID), so that all resources containing (say) 1881 Census records are displayed together, as their reference-IDs are prefixed “CEN1881”, whatever the form of their Title.  An exception to this example is for census extracts held on "Family Tree" magazine CD's (column F = Media = "CD FT" or "CD FT "), when ref-ID's are prefixed "yyp1yy1", the "yyp" (here instead of "CEN") being the issue year-and-period of the CD, and "1yy1" the census-year — the most practical way to identify them is to sort on the fifth column (E = Title), and then scan through by eye the less than 80 entries whose titles begin with the text "Census for" and include the census-year.



There are no Index entries for our own Newsletter (and very, very few for articles therein), as Members of course receive it by email (or exceptionally printed copies are posted to them) — though a few spare copies are held in the Help Centre and can be offered to visitors.  The Media (in column F) for those very few articles are such as "NL45 p11", with a free-format Ref-ID (such as "NAMINGENG", for "English Naming Traditions") — typically added some time after the Newsletter's publication date when we happened to have a talk closely relevant to the article's subject matter.


All our copies of Suffolk Family History Society's quarterly "Suffolk Roots" are indexed, because it is the only County-wide magazine dedicated to family history — any interesting articles within them are indexed also.  The "SKRO0T" (until 1999) or (from 2000) "SKROOT"-prefixed Ref-ID's match the issue date ("yyp" = year and period) in which the article appears.  We hold almost all issues from 1979 to 2005, but a yet larger archive is available online to SFHS members.

We also have a very few, recent copies of Felixstowe Family History Society's quarterly magazine, "ROOTS and BRANCHES" (Ref-ID of "FXROOT" followed by the issue date "yyp").  Their Media is "mag A5 M", meaning that they're filed with the booklets on the Middle bookshelf.  As they are of especial interest to family historians with connections to the south-east corner of Suffolk, issues are individually catalogued in the Index, as are particularly interesting articles within them.

Our Reference-ID "periods" for the two magazines above are 1=January to 9=September, U=October/Autumn, V=November and W=December/Winter —
this is only part of a fuller list of possible periods of one, two or three months for which magazines, etc are published. 



The issues of the following Suffolk general-history magazines aren't usually individually indexed (although they still carry PROPERTY-OF labels marked with their Ref-ID), but we still consider it our duty to preserve copies of these County publications when we come by them, as an archive resource for the future.  However, we HAVE identified and indexed many articles that we DO consider relevant, because they're of particular eastern Suffolk and/or family-history interest — each article's Ref-ID matches the magazine's issue that it appears in, and its page number is shown in the indexed Title, so that you can find it easily.  Although we have (sometimes extensive) copies of our own, you'll see from the following that the respective Suffolk publishers can offer you much more too.  For our part, we hold —

— a very few copies of the annual "Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History" (with Ref-ID "PSIAHyyyy"), which are stored in the right-hand side of the cupboard with sliding doors, as they're book-like — so their Media is "book R", rather than a "mag" variant.  However, a huge archive (dating back to 1853!) is publicly available at http://www.suffolkinstitute.org.uk/proceedings-of-the-suffolk-institute-for-archaeology-history-online (or follow the magnifying-glass link on our main «Index» page), for a voluntary donation.

— a very few, recent copies of Aldeburgh and District Local History Society's annual "The Chronicle" (Ref-ID of "CHRONIC" with two-digit issue number "ii").  Their Media is "mag A5 M", meaning that they're filed with the booklets on the Middle bookshelf.  Issues ARE ALL individually catalogued, as there are so few of them, but with a marked irregularity in the number of articles of particular interest to family historians — as the Society embraces archaeology and the Middle Ages too.  ADLHS have placed their searchable back-numbers online for their members, and you can join the Society at http://adlhs.org.uk/join.

— most of the half-yearly issues since 1993 of both the "Suffolk Local History Council Newsletter" and their "Suffolk Review", with Ref-ID's prefixed "SLHCNL" or "SKREVW", followed by the issue date ("yyp") — the "period" suffixes here are E=Spring/Easter and U=Autumn — whilst their Media is "mag 93-14" or (after their size-changes) "mag 2014+", and are filed in suitably marked cardboard boxes.  Lists of "Suffolk Review" articles under a number of subject-headings — such as "Agriculture", "People", "Poor Law" and "Sources for Historians" (but not "Family History" because that isn't within their remit) — can be downloaded from the SLHC website at https://slhc.org.uk/articles/.  That particular webpage also contains a link to fuller indexes, with brief abstracts of articles — that facility is currently under development.

Some digital scans of Leiston Grammar School's annual magazines are on our Help Centre computers in folders LGSM55-72_LGS Leistonian Magazines 1955-72 and LGSR52-59_LGS Record magazines 1952'53 to 58'59.


From national family-history magazines (such as "Who do you think you are?"), we also have several digital scans (or, rarely, laminated original pages) of extracted family-history, social-history or Alde Valley/Suffolk articles of interest.  (The original printed issues aren't usually retained, as we can make much better use of the storage space — and the content can be somewhat repetitive over the months, or date quite quickly too — but these back-numbers are often available as give-aways at our Open Days.)  For each extract from these national magazines, the Reference-ID relates to the article's subject matter, not to the particular magazine's name.


Whatever the source of a magazine or a magazine-article, the item's "Media" value identifies whether it is held digitally, physically or as both — indeed that applies to any resource within our Index.  Digital files reside on our Help Centre computers, and their filenames are prefixed with their respective Ref-ID's — which means that you can search for them easily.  Physical magazine-sourced items are held as card❋ or paper❋ items in the lever-arch files, sorted alphabetically, again by their Ref-ID.  A very few items are even also available on pages of our website — these will include "w3" within their "Media".

You can drop in at our fortnightly Help Centre sessions to view any items of interest —
find them by reference to our "Where to find things in the Help Centre" webpage.
For those paid-up Members further afield, you're welcome to raise a Research Request — visit http://avsfhg.org.uk/research/.
Either way, we shall do whatever we can to help.