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Cataloging Methodology

Our work is heavily indebted to Helen Weinstein, who compiled the catalog of the Pepys Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge. We have to a large extent used her category headings as the basis of our own catalog and, in most cases, we were able to follow her methodology for bibliographic entries on the Pepys Ballads. We have supplemented Weinstein’s catalog with information provided by EBBA’s imprint specialists in our own more detailed categories on printers' and publishers' names as our archive has grown.

In cases where we have relied primarily on Weinstein’s bibliographic entries for the Pepys ballads, acknowledgement is attributed with “(Weinstein)” in the description of the catalog heading. In all cases when Weinstein’s catalog was used, we checked her entries against the ballad and our knowledge, making corrections where necessary. For example, we have used Weinstein's dates supplemented with our own research. Weinstein uses a system of brackets to indicate faint, unclear, or missing text from titles, first lines, and refrains. As our archive has grown, we have continued to use Weinstein as an example, while also adjusting our cataloging needs to the different ballads and collections we've encountered.

While cataloging each ballad, we retain original spellings for titles, first lines, imprints, licenses, and refrains. We modernize the “long s” and "r rotunda" (or "half r"), but maintain "vv" for "w", and "i" for "j".

We catalog each ballad title in three ways: one that retains original spelling, one that follows our transcription orthography rules, and one that modernizes and Americanizes spelling. Although the latter two are not displayed on the citation page, they aid in users' searches and make allowance for the wide variance of early modern spelling. All title variants are visible on the TEI-XML documents associated with each ballad.

We also provide dates whenever possible; please see our page on "Dates" for more on the methodology and practices of dating our ballads.

Other important cataloging information includes:

  1. An author, in the rare cases when such information is available;
  2. A tune imprint, if one is present on the page, and, because the same tune can be known by more than one name, we catalog a standard tune title taken from Simpson's The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music (see "Recording Early Broadside Ballads" for more on our methodology);
  3. A printer's or publisher's imprint, if there is one;
  4. A license, which usually indicates governmental approval for publication (licenses are also useful in dating ballads, as many licensers put their names to their license, such as the infamous Roger L'Estrange);
  5. Four cataloging items from the ballad's original holding institution: the collection name (which is sometimes just the general shelfmark), volume and page number (when applicable), the name of the holding institution, and the holding institutions's shelfmark for the item;
  6. A link to the ballad's entry in the English Short Title Catalogue, if there is one;
  7. A list of three to five keywords that capture the main subjects of the ballad (see "Keywords" for more information);
  8. A link to the MARC-XML for the ballad entry;
  9. And finally, a section of the citation page that includes the title, tune imprint, first lines, and refrains of all parts of every ballad.

A useful example of a ballad with nearly all of this information present is EBBA 36016, "Fancies Phoenix. OR, The Peerless Paragon of the Times," from the Manchester Central Library's Blackletter Ballads collection.

A final "Notes" section contains any useful information that may not be captured by the above cataloging procedure. Advertisements, marginalia, textual and stanzaic irregularities, versos and rectos, and other facts that may be of interest to our users are listed there. Two examples may suffice to explain the utility of the "Notes" field: first, one explaining the genre of a sixteenth-century ballad, EBBA 36285,"A Decree betwene Churchyarde and Camell," one of eleven entries into a flyting series over EBBA 36280, "Dauy Dycars Dreame;" and second, a note recording marginalia in a contemporary hand, such as EBBA 36421, "A Caution to Stir Up to Watch against Sin," which has the date of purchase ("8. Aprill. 1684") in Narcissus Luttrell's easily-recognizable hand.

See "Catalog Headings" for a category-by-category breakdown of our citation pages.