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The British Library

The British Library is home to over 2,500 sixteenth- and seventeenth-century broadside ballads. Many of these ballads exist in large, named collections, such as the famed Bagford, Huth, and Roxburghe collections. EBBA's archiving of all c. 2,500 ballads is nearing completion as of Fall 2020.

EBBA first archived the prominent Roxburghe ballad collection of some 1,500 ballads in 2008-2010. Ten years later, members of the EBBA team returned to the British Library to capture the remaining c. 1,000 ballads held in its walls. These additional ballads comprise 25 different shelfmarks and include some important named and unnamed collections as well as single sheets gathered in smaller, innocuous bindings. During a three-week visit to the Library in 2015, Director Patricia Fumerton and her Assistant Director Kristen McCants Forbes tracked down and identified each of these ballads. They received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities for 2018-2020 to complete this archival work.

EBBA provides detailed discussions of the Bagford, Huth, and Roxburghe collections, including provenance and printed editions. Although the other ballads are no less important, we have grouped them under the term "Miscellaneous" in an effort to simplify our cataloging descriptions. On the page dedicated to these miscellaneous balalds, we offer brief descriptions of the larger collections (outside of the Bagford, Huth, and Roxburghe), and include a list of additional shelfmarks by which ballads held by the British Library can be found.