English Broadside Ballad Archive

patricia fumerton

About the English Broadside Ballad Archive:

“The most ambitious project to date of the Early Modern Center in the English Department at the University of California-Santa Barbara.”

This digital archive was created in 2003 by Director Patricia Fumerton. She was interested in creating a new research guide that focused on broadside ballads. Sadly, Fumerton found that she was often denied access to these resources. Original copies of these ballads were extremely guarded at libraries. Most printed editions were difficult to find and not easily accessible. There were very few readable transcriptions available to explore. EBBA has come to the rescue, providing access to thousands of interesting ballad, most of which were published during the 17th century and make up a total of approximately 10,000 works.

What is a Broadside Ballad?

In the first half of the 17th century, this term referred to a single large sheet of paper printed on one side with multiple eye-catching illustrations, an interesting title, and an alluring poem in black-letter font. All information on broadside ballads can be found under the “Features” column located on the left side of the homepage. Priority is given to the printed ballads of the black-letter ornamental broadside. EBBA also archives hundreds of surviving texts from the 16th century and early 18th century too. EBBA delivers high quality ballad sheet facsimiles and facsimile transcriptions of the ballads.


A facsimile transcription is something that maintains the original decoration of the text while still transforming the ballad into readable modern day language.

How To Navigate EEBA:

– Under the “Features” column, there are multiple subcategories to explore. “Images,” “Transcriptions,” “Recordings,” and “Cataloguing.”

– Each of these subcategories offers an in depth analysis of EBBA’s methodology for their ballad archives.

– After you are directed to the homepage there is an area in the upper left hand corner called “BALLAD SEARCH.” This is where you can begin your exploration and discovery for certain ballads.

– Then, after hitting “Search,” you will be directed to the results of the text you have chosen to research.

– At the top of the page, you will be able to see how many entries were found for the specific text. There is an image associated with each individual entry as well as all titles and year of publication.

EBBA basic search screenshot.png

– Clicking on one particular entry allows you to explore it further.

– You can choose to zoom in, zoom out, or view the full size of the image under “Image Manipulation.”

EBBA after search.jpg


– The “Text Transcription” category listed above the image allows you to read the text in a simpler, more easily readable format; similar to how you would read the text in a book.

– A cool feature of EBBA is that the “Album Facsimile” category offers a picture of the in-situ version of the desired ballad.

EBBA album facsimile.jpg

 – When filling out a document analysis form, the “Citation” column in the basic ballad search is a helpful resource. This tool offers a complete resource for all titles and subtitles, author, year of publication, and publisher information. It also includes information regarding included pages, location of the ballad, and ballad collection.

EBBA citation.jpg

– Although EBBA has thousands of various ballads, not all texts produce ballad results. EBBA offers an Advanced Search option for these cases.

– On the homepage there is an option for advanced search under the ballad search region.

– EBBA’s website states, “For organizational purposes, Advanced Search filters are arranged on the form in three basic categories: Bibliographic, Woodcut/Impression, and Tune. You can conduct searches using any combination of metadata filters simultaneously.”

– There are spaces to put Title, First Lines, Author, Date, Printer/Publisher, Collection, Volume, and Keywords.

EBBA adv search.jpg


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