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English Broadside Ballad Archive

The English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA) makes broadside ballads of the seventeenth century fully accessible as texts, art, music, and cultural records.

In its heydey of the first half of the seventeenth century, a broadside ballad was a single large sheet of paper printed on one side (hence “broad-side”) with multiple eye-catching illustrations, a popular tune title, and an alluring poem—the latter mostly in black-letter, or what we today call “gothic,” type. EBBA’s goal is to make these ballads fully accessible as texts, art, music, and cultural records of the period.

About 8,000 English broadside ballads of the entire seventeenth century survive. To capture the genre’s arch of development, EBBA seeks to archive all these printed ballads—with priority given to the black-letter ornamental broadside of the genre’s heyday—as well as all surviving sixteenth-century broadside ballads (about 250) and a representative sampling of broadside ballads of the early eighteenth century.

EBBA provide high-quality broadside sheet facsimiles as well as facsimile transcriptions (which preserve the ballad’s original ornament while transcribing its unfamiliar typeface into easily readable modern print). In addition, EBBA also supplies recordings of the ballads whenever a tune is extant, extensive cataloguing of all elements of the broadside, including cataloguing of their illustrations or woodcut impressions, TEI/XML and MARC records, and both basic and advanced search functions that allow readers easily to find collections or individual ballads as well as their constituent parts or makers by a variety of means. EBBA also offers background essays on the various ballad collections included in the archive and on ballad culture generally as well as other helpful ballad resources.

Carl Stahmer has served as the Associate Director of EBBA since 2005 and is also currently serving as the Acting Director. In both capacities he has direct oversight over a large and committed team of ballad scholars, ranging from undergraduate research assistants, to graduate students, to postdoctoral fellows. While all of EBBA’s work is highly collaborative, Dr. Stahmer is individually responsible for the development and maintenance of EBBA’s technological infrastructure.

Visit EBBA at ebba.english.ucsb.edu.

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© 2015 by Carl G Stahmer
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