All the indexes available on VWML Online can be searched by full text.
The most simple way of seaching an index is to select it from the 'Search indexes' menu (see here for a brief overview of the indexes if you don't know which to search) and type the words you are looking for into the text box towards the top of the screen.
Click on 'Submit query', wait for a few seconds, and the records containing any of those words will be shown in the 'Search results'. You will then be able to step through those records using the blue backwards and forwards arrows.
In most cases this may very well produce the answer you are looking for. If it doesn't, there are several ways of refining your search.
You can change 'any of' to 'all of' so that the search looks for all of the words in your search, or to 'none of' so that the search looks for records containing none of the words in your search. If you select 'precisely' the search looks for all of the words in your query in the order in which they occur in your query. If you are searching for a song title in any of the indexes, it is best to type in the song title and select 'all of' or 'precisely'. Note that the search in case insensitive and ignores small words like 'a', 'an', 'the', etc.
You can also use the wildcard star * in your search to search for words with different endings. For example if you search for 'york*' this will find all the records that contain 'York', 'Yorkshire', 'Yorky' and so on. Note that you can only use * on the end of words. You cannot search for all the words ending with 'ing' by typing in '*ing' for example.
Note that there may be some variation in the way that text has been entered into the indexes. For example "Soldier's Joy" appears both with and without the apostrophe in the Roud index. However if you search for "Soldier* Joy" you will find all the variants.
You can also restrict the fields that the search looks in instead of using 'All fields'. For example in the Roud folksong index if you search for 'york' in all fields, the result will not be all the songs sung or collected in York, but will include all the songs with 'York' in the title, and so on. To limit the results to songs with York in the title, select 'Title' instead of 'All fields'.
Multiple field searches
For very detailed searches you can use a 'Multiple field search'. Click on the radio button besides 'Multiple field search' and this will show an extended search interface and hide the simple single field search interface. The multiple field interface gives a text query box for each field in the index, and allows you to select an 'operation' on each field. The operation may be 'any', 'all', 'none' or 'precisely' which act in much the same way as 'any of', 'all of' etc. as described above, and also include 'Empty' and 'Not empty' which respectively look for fields that contain no text or any text. These can be useful when, for example, you wish to search the Sharp MSS index for singers that there are photos of. If you select 'Not empty' of the 'Photo ref' field, this will find all the records where there are photos.
Several of the indexes are grouped so that they can be cross searched: selecting 'Cross search' from the 'Search indexes' menus gives a search screen much the same as for a single index search, except a list of the indexes that can be cross searched is given on the right hand side of the screen. You can select which indexes you want to be included in the search by clicking on the tick boxes next to the index names.
Changing the output
You can also change the way that the output from a search is displayed. By default the results are shown as the complete record, one a page. If you select 'List' instead of 'Record' then it will display several shortened records on one page.
Links to other resources
Many of the indexes contain links to other resources. For example the Roud folksong index is linked to the Sharp, Hammond and Gardiner indexes, so that if you find a record in the Roud index of a song collected by Cecil Sharp, you can click on the 'Source' record to go to the record of the singer in the Sharp index. Likewise the titles of the songs listed in the Sharp, Hammond and Gardiner indexes are linked to the corresponding records in the Roud index.
The titles in the Roud index are linked to searches in Google: if you click on the Google logo to the right of the title this will take you to a Google search for the title. Whether this will actually find anything useful is beyond our control, but for common songs it is likely that someone somewhere has put the words online for you to look at.
The Roud index records are also linked to Roud number searches. Songs with the same Roud number are variations on the same song (see about the Roud index for more details). So if you find a song that you are interested in, then click on the 'Roud number search' link to the right of the Roud number, this will search for all the songs have the same Roud number, and therefore that are variations on the song you found.