Crawford English Ballads Collection


Crawford English Ballads Collection


A collection of over 4,200 broadside ballads in English, dating from the 16th to the early 20th century, collected by Ludovic, the 26th Earl of Crawford. The Crawford family papers, also on deposit in the Library (Acc.9769), which include letters and documents relating to the family library, reveal that the ballad collection of Frederick Ouvry was acquired in 1882. Another major purchase was three volumes from the Osterley Park (Earl of Jersey) sale in 1885, and from the third volume (lot 141) Ludovic presented 68 ballads to the British Museum, now the British Library. There were no further large-scale acquisitions of early ballads after 1890, but Ludovic added some more nineteenth-century ballads to those he already had (in the preface to his 1890 catalogue of the collection) he writes that he has 'upwards of 2000' of those) and a few earlier ballads.


They are mounted on paper and arranged alphabetically by first line in boxes. The items are catalogued individually and have the shelfmark 'Crawford.EB.'.


Deposited in 1988.


The first section of this collection, Crawford.EB.1–1466, is described in 'Bibliotheca Lindesiana: Catalogue of a Collection of English Ballads of the XVIIth and XVIIIth Centuries Printed for the Most Part in Black Letter', [Aberdeen], 1890.

Online resources

Digital images of the pre-1701 ballads in the collection are available on EBBA (English Broadside Ballad Archive)

Digital images of the post-1700 ballads in the collection shelf-marked Crawford.EB.1466-3888

An introduction to the Crawford English Ballads Collection on the EBBA website




Ballad literature