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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
find it within its County (typically "Suffolk") and then 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 — and usually refers to the data within the item.  Exceptionally (for example if it's a Suffolk Record Office/Suffolk Archives publication) the item might list the library's reference-IDs where that data can be found at the SRO (not in our Help Centre) — which then might be categorised (say) as "Census" or "P-Register", rather than more vaguely as "Guide" or "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
          Why do we have Ref-IDs?  


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 1,700 items in our archive, yet there are over 2,500 index-lines, because many items are catalogued against more than one community and/or even Category.  The Index is not simply a stocktaking exercise.

☞ You should be able to find any resource by reference only to the sixth column ("F" = «Media»), and then the seventh column ("G" ="Ref-ID"), because all items (apart from microfiches) are filed alphabetically.  Exceptionally, fiches are filed in order of their printed (not Index) titles, as they don't have sticky labels showing their Ref-ID's.



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]” — 
and all three index-lines have the same Media of "paper❋" (in the sixth column) and nine-character reference-ID of “SNAPE2000”, under which the magazine is filed (in the seventh 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.



A further option is to use the "Search" or "Find" facility — often indicated with a magnifying-glass.  However, the spreadsheet software (maybe not as powerful as Microsoft's Excel) and particular platform (laptop, tablet or phone) that you use may not support this facility.  

Assuming that they do, and taking a search for "Sizewell" as an example, starting from the beginning of the Index, you will find about 1000 records into the Index an entry against Hazlewood for "Leiston/Sizewell Wills, 1622-1638 — incl. for Francis Shipman of Haselwood & Sizewell, 1637".  That is because it contains the exact text "Sizewell" SOMEWHERE within the record — here within the Item-title, but it could be in any column.  

Another 200 records or so further on , you'll also find "Census statistics, Leiston-cum-Sizewell (populations for each census, 1801 to 1971)" — and so on...  However, you're now finding entries one by one.  You'll eventually reach the flurry of entries you would have found just scanning by eye through the Index for the particular community.  

Another 700 records or so further on, you'll find "Average number of [Fishing] Masters operating from Sizewell and Thorpe, 1375-1409" under Thorpeness.  It's important to note that matches (and the sorting of records) are STRICTLY alphabetical — so you'll see that the previous line for the geographical feature of  "Thorpe Ness" (with a space in the middle) sorts before all the entries for "Thorpeness" (the village, with no space), though you might have expected to find it a few lines further down.  In the earlier example, searching for "Hazlewood" wouldn't have found the "Francis Shipman of Haselwood" entry, except that (as far as possible, and as in this case), we've ensured that the familiar spelling of the placename appears elsewhere within the same record.  You will recognise this as the same issue as the Smith/Smyth/Smythe dilemma with Ancestry, etc.  All matches here are "exact", to use Ancestry's terminology. 



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 (following the traditional "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 digit "2" precedes letter "I" (in double-U/double-U/eye, for Roman numeral "one").  

The same technique with "[map" or "[photo" identifies a book where its Category isn't "Map" or "Maps" or "Photo" 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), so search for any of "agricultur" (which will find both "agriculture" and "agricultural"), "airfield", "archaeolog" (+y/ical/ist[for our friends across The Pond, please note the British English spelling!]"architectur" (+e/al), "army",  "biograph" (+er/y), "Boer" (as in "Boer War"), (Benjamin) "Britten", "Catholic", "cemetery", "chapel", "church", "cofe"/"CofE" (Church of England), "corn" (as in "Corn Laws"), "Covid", "deacon" (+ry/ries), "education", "famil"(+y/ies), "farm", "flood" (typically that of 31/1-1/2/1953), "Garrett" (and other specific family names, such as "Ling"), "gazetteer" (Category is usually "Directory"), "genealog" (+y/ical), "geograph" (+y/er), "geolog" (+y/ist), "Goseford" (medieval port between Alderton and Bawdsey); "industr" (+y/ial), "inventor" (+y/ies), "manor" (+"ial"); "military", "naval", "navy", "non-conformist" (also "Friends" and "Quaker"), "Peterloo", "Phillimore" (history publications), "poor" (as in "Poor Law" or "poor rates"), "probate", "RAF", "railway", "regiment", "1939" (Register taken on 29/9/1939, equivalent to a Census), "ROH" (Roll of Honour), "school", "tax", "tithe" (and there are also a very few maps under the Category of "Map (tithe)"), "topograph" (+y/er), "USAAF, "USAF", "WDYTYA", "Will" and "workhouse"(For convenience and completeness, the keywords listed at the head of this «SEARCHING FUNCTION» Section are repeated here, but in strict alphabetical order"[census", "[map", "[photo", "[WW2" and "[WWI".) 

As just listed, to find both "family" and "families", you should search for the stem "famil": the matching Category is deliberately "Fam-History".  "WDYTYA" usually refers to digital scans of interesting «Who do you think you are?» magazine articles.

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.  However, unlike many other history groups, we hold very, very few original photographs. 

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.





Members receive the Newsletter by email, or (exceptionally) printed copies are posted to them.  A few spare printed copies are held in the Help Centre, and can be offered to visitors.  Digital versions are held on the Group's computers, in folder "NL-AVSFHG_Newsletters" or in "Newsletters".  Each filename's prefix is in the Ref-ID-compatible format of "NLii-yypp" — where "ii" is the issue number, "yy" is the year, and "pp" is the month or quarter period (JA/Q1/FE/MR/AP/Q2/MY/JE/JL/Q3/AU/SE/OC/Q4/NO/DE) — but the issues don't need indexing individually as ALL are available digitally on one or more of our computers.

There are also a very, very few Newsletter articles listed in the Index, typically added some time after the actual publication date when we happened to have a talk closely relevant to the article's subject matter.  The Media (in column F) for these very few articles are such as "NL45 p11", with a free-format Ref-ID (such as "NAMINGENG", for "English Naming Traditions").



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 "SKROOT"-prefixed Ref-ID's match the issue date ("yyp" = year and period) in which the article appears.  Our collection is, of course, limited (which is why we have to index them individually), but we DO hold almost all issues from 1979 to 2005.  However, a yet larger archive is available online to SFHS members.

Our Reference-ID "periods" for these magazines 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.  Not only do we index interesting articles, but each issue that we hold is indexed separately too (even if happens to contain no suitable articles).  

— 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 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 practical 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.  Not only do we index interesting articles, but each issue that we hold is indexed separately too (even if happens to contain no suitable articles).

— 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.



    issues individually indexed?
  physical issues retained in Help Centre?
  |   format of magazines' and articles' Ref-IDs OR [comments]
  AVSFHG Newsletters [Media = "PC"] N N   [View ALL issues as digital files in folder "NL-AVSFHG_Newsletters" or "Newsletters"]
  Suffolk Roots  Y   Y    prefixed with SKROOT   then year/period "yyp"
  Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute … Y Y   prefixed with PSIAH   then year "yyyy"
  The Chronicle Y Y   prefixed with CHRONIC   then issue number "ii"
  Suffolk Local History Council Newsletter N Y   prefixed with SLHCNL   then year/period "yyp"
  Suffolk Review [published by SLHC] N Y   prefixed with SKREVW   then year/period "yyp"
  LGS / Leiston Grammar School magazines N N   [View as digital files within the LGS folders mentioned above]
  national family-history magazine articles N N   [mostly scans, indexed by their subject matter, with Ref-ID of nine characters]



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 make an appointment to attend our 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.