The University of California at Santa Barbara has created a free digital ballad collection called The English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA), which provides access to more than 8,000 seventeenth-century ballads. The collection includes ballads from the Pepys Collection, the Roxburgh Collection, the Euing Collection, and the Huntington Library. EBBA is directed by Patricia Fumerton at UCSB. This project was supported by the N.E.H.
Individual entries provide links to sheet facsimiles, facsimile transcriptions, and often recordings. These features facilitate introducing students both to ballads’ visual details–ornaments, woodcuts, columned verse–and to their tunes.
Cataloging is full and includes the following:
EBBA ID: An internal identifier. Each individual ballad in the archive has a unique EBBA ID.
Title: A diplomatic transcription of the ballad title as it appears on the ballad sheet. The title consists of all ballad text before the first lines of the ballad, including verse headers but excluding text recorded elsewhere under other catalogue headings (such as the license or author, date, publisher and printer imprints).
Date Published: The year—or, in most cases, range of years—during which EBBA believes the ballad to have been published. See Dates.
Author: The recognized author of the ballad in cases where an indication of authorship has been printed on the ballad or, in the case of Pepys ballads, when Weinstein has identified an author from external sources (e.g., Wing, Rollins).
Standard Tune: The standardized name for the melody (according to Claude M. Simpson or other reliable sources). Clicking the standard tune name will return all ballads with the same melody, including alternate tune titles.
Imprint: A diplomatic transcription of the printing, publishing, and/or location information as it appears on the ballad sheet.
License: A diplomatic transcription of the licensing or permission information as printed on the ballad.
Collection: The name of the collection to which the ballad belongs. In cases where the ballad is not part of a named collection, the name of the holding library plus “miscellaneous” will appear. For example, Huntington Library ballads that are not part of a collection are grouped as “HEH Miscellaneous.”
Sheet/Page: For ballads that are collected as independent sheets, the citation page displays the word “Sheet” and lists the sheet number given to it by its holding institution (usually part of its shelfmark). For ballads bound in a book, the citation page displays the word “Page” and lists the page number within the bound volume.
Location: The name of the holding institution.
Shelfmark: The shelfmark assigned by the holding institution.
ESTC ID: The Citation Number for the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC). Use this number to find the full ESTC citation for any given ballad at http://estc.bl.uk/.
Keyword Categories: The keywords from EBBA’s standardized keyword list that relate to the ballad’s theme and content.
Notes: Clarify potential areas of confusion for users, such as ballads that have print on both sides of a sheet.
MARC Record: A link to our MARC-XML records
Additional Information: Information specific to each part of the ballad.
Title: Separate titles for multi-part ballads.
Tune Imprint: Tune title(s) as printed.
First Lines: A diplomatic transcription of the first two lines of the ballad text proper, below any heading information included in the title or elsewhere under other catalogue headings.
Refrain: Repeated lines at the end of or within ballad stanzas.
Condition: Description of ballad sheet damage and the current state of the sheet. (This information is from Weinstein and is currently for the Pepys collection only.)
Ornament: A list of decorations made of cast metal that appear on the ballad. Frequently used to fill empty spaces in the forme and/or to delimit parts of the ballad text, these ornaments include vertical rules, horizontal rules, and cast fleurons. (This information is from Weinstein and is currently for the Pepys collection only.)
Ballad scholars working with EEBO or ECCO will be familiar with the difficulty of finding ballads, making English Broadside Ballad Archive and Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads necessary.
Together with new printed resources, such as Patricia Fumerton and Anita Guerrini’s Ballads and Broadsides in Britain, 1500-1800 (Ashgate 2010) and Angela McShane’s Political Broadside Ballads of Seventeenth-Century England: A Critical Bibliography (Pickering & Chatto 2011), these digital resources provide a robust and growing archive for the systematic study of a format whose transiency may have discouraged such studies in the past.