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Ballads and broadsides

Ballads and broadsides on microfilm

In 1994 Wilson Library purchased an important microfilm archive, Popular Literature in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Britain, Part 2. Several thousand ballads and broadsides are reproduced on seven microfilm reels. Most of the single sheets were ephemeral (though sometimes printed in very large quantities), and have not been published since. They are reproduced from albums in the Sabine Baring-Gould and Thomas Crampton collections in the British Library, London.

The reels are shelved in the microfilm collection in the periodicals room of Wilson Library (back in the corner). A catalogue is shelved upstairs in the reference room. They are catalogued as follows: 

 Title:          Popular literature in eighteenth and nineteenth century
                   Britain <microform>
 Published:      Reading, England ; Woodbridge, CT : Research Publications ;
                   Brighton : Harvester Press Microform Publ. Ltd., 1985-1990.
  LOCATION:              CALL NUMBER:               STATUS:
  WILSON                 Mfilm 3877                 Enter HOL 1 for holdings
  WILSON Reference       PR149 .P66 P67x 1990       Enter HOL 2 for holdings
  (Non-Circulating)        guide

These ballads and broadsides give a fresh view of British popular culture c. 1760ñ1860. Leading topics include crime, punishment, passion, politics, nationalism, and class difference. Most of the ballads are roughly rhymed and even more crudely printed, decorated with eye-catching but often irrelevant woodcuts.

The catalogue is not easy to use: it lists titles and first lines in many separate alphabetical orderings, two for each of the scrapbook albums that make up the archive. In any case, not all the titles or first lines are informative. This archive rewards browsing.

Popular Literature in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Britain is copyrighted by The British Library, London, and Harvester Press Microfilm Publications Ltd., Brighton, England.

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Michael Hancher
Department of English, University of Minnesota
URL: <http://umn.edu/home/mh/ballads.html>
Comments to: mh@umn.edu
Created February 1995
Last revised 25 June 1997