Travellers’ Project – useful links

Useful links for the Travellers’ Project, supplied by Paul Wilson, British Library Curator – Radio.  Some are more readily accessible than others!

BBC World Service Radio Archive prototype online

  • 50,000 programmes dating back to 1970s, but most is post-1980s
  • You need to register to access but there are no fees
  • About 2/3 of content can be streamed from the site but sound quality is (intentionally) low
  • Subject tags are auto-generated and are often inappropriate but you can contribute to the correction/enhancement and augmentation of the data
  • Stronger on current affairs and arts magazine progs than British Library and main BBC Sound Archive collections
  • About 150 programmes tagged ‘Gypsy’ (62 streamable), only 8 tagged ‘Romany’e.g.
    (subjects include both Romanian immigrants and gypsies – last quarter)

British Library Sound & Vision – online SAMI catalogue

  • Most oral history content will be catalogued
  • Only a proportion of the radio collections are catalogued within SAMI
  • Very large catalogue often requires careful search refinement or a large trawl
  • No radio content in this sphere is yet available for external online playback
  • Some digitised audio is accessible on the internal Soundserver system within reading rooms
    e.g. NP1618W (‘Life & Hard Times of a Romany Man’ 1970)
    Subject tag GYPSY – 470 entries mostly music
    Subject tag GYPSIES – 954
    Subject tag GYPSY FOLK SONGS AND MUSIC – 86

BBC Sound Archive  Electronic catalogue is only accessible onsite only.
Printed version and other finding aids available in Humanities 2 reading room
Search options very limited – for this catalogue also use subject term spelling GIPSIES.  Some post-2007 audio is streamable, including TV content.  But the rest has to be ordered in advance for a return visit.  Some examples

British Library Broadcast Newscatalogue online, video/audio onsite only

  • International TV news programmes since 2010
  • UK radio mostly since 2012

BUFVC Collections
LBC-IRN News Archive (1973-1996)
Catalogue is universally accessible but audio only accessible with Athens (UK HFE) login credentials

Some non-audio resources

BBC News Scripts – collection of original BBC Radio News Bulletin scripts (1937-1972) on microfilm is available in the Newsroom, catalogue ref. MFM.MLD218C

A subject index is available on separate microfilms – one for each year and very laborious to use.

For this project it might be worthwhile transcribing the index for key subject terms. The scripts give you the exact wording of reports on the BBC’s national network services (Home Service, Light Programme) which may not survive as audio recordings.

Electronic resources:

Onsite British Library electronic resources:

Times Digital Archive is another useful resource, as is British Newspaper Archive, but require subscriptions (or access via a subscribing local or academic library).

Times Index is complete from 1785 to 1985 and can be ordered chronologically.

Watch out for archaic spellings – ‘Gypsey’ etc. Very useful as a way of tracing early references and historical use of particular terms/language. Throws up some very interesting 19th C material.

Listener Historical Archive 1925-1991 (291 hits for search term ‘Gypsies’)

BBC Genome

Complete BBC schedules back to 1920s (not all regional programme data yet included and OCR often needs correcting). About 8,000 programmes can be played through embedded links but much more will be added in coming years. Bear in mind that the vast majority of the programmes do not survive as audio recordings to day.

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