South Riding Folk Arts Network logo http://folk-network.com/
SRFN : Directory : Internet Resources : traditional folk song

Internet Resources: traditional folk song

An increasing number of books, journals and other publications relating to the folk arts are becoming available online, either in facsimile, as plain text, or coded as html pages. The major contributors are the well-funded American institutions, and these are the resources which are likely to stay put; but a significant amount of material is also provided by British universities and smaller, independent sites such as this one.

There are also a large number of websites which include collections of songs. These range from organised archive collections of field recordings, broadsides and sheet music to more fluid sites containing material copied from published or recorded sources, and reproduced in various formats, including sheet music, recordings and texts: in some cases with tunes provided in abc or midi formats. Some of these are of a high standard, while others are full of unattributed material, misinformation and errors, and should be used with caution, or avoided altogether.

Although our main emphasis is on English language material, we also include resources relating to traditions in other languages; at least where we can tell what they are. There is plenty of material still to be added; this will appear as time permits.

Song collections: books Song collections: websites Folk song studies: websites
Folk song studies: books and journals Indexes, bibliographies and finding aids Related material


Folk song studies: online books and journals

Top of page  

Folk song studies: journal articles

Top of page  

Folk song studies: websites

  • Classic English Folk Songs
    A set of web pages providing additions, corrections and supplementary material for the revised and expanded edition of the famous Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, compiled by R Vaughan Williams and A L Lloyd and first published in 1959. The new edition was published by the English Folk Dance and Song Society in 2003, and the first impression is now sold out. A second impression, incorporating some of the corrigenda and addenda given here, is available from http://folkshop.efdss.org/.
    Link: Classic English Folk Songs: supplementary material
    Link: about the book
    Link: EFDSS: online shop

  • The Collector
    A series of interesting articles by Frank Kidson on folk song and related subjects, originally published in The Choir magazine between 1912 and 1925. Introduction by Vic Gammon, Foreword by John Francmanis.
    Link: Frank Kidson's 'Collector' articles in 'The Choir'
    Link: Traditional Song Forum

  • Marrow Bones: English Folk Songs From the Hammond and Gardiner Manuscripts
    A set of web pages providing additions, corrections and supplementary material for the revised and expanded edition of the influential song book compiled by Frank Purslow and first published in 1965. The new edition was published by the English Folk Dance and Song Society in 2007, and is available from http://folkshop.efdss.org/.
    Link: Marrow Bones: supplementary material
    Link: EFDSS: online shop

  • Musical Traditions
    Originally a print magazine, this is now a large and expanding online resource. It includes an extensive discography of traditional music; indexes and notes for Topic Records' epic Voice of the People series; news archives, and articles on traditional music and song ranging from short pieces to entire books (too numerous to list here). Also the home of MT Records, an important series of recordings of traditional singers.
    Link: Musical Traditions
    Link: Articles
    Link: MT Records

  • Sing Us One of The Old Songs: A Guide to Popular Song 1860-1920
    A web page providing additions, corrections and supplementary material for Michael Kilgarriff's important study of popular song (Oxford: OUP 1999).
    Link: Sing Us One of The Old Songs
    Michael Kilgarriff: http://homepage.virgin.net/m.killy/index.htm

  • Sixteenth Century Ballads: a work in progress
    Indexes of 16th century ballads and supporting material including staff notation and articles. Also selected transcriptions from Collmann, Ballads and Broadsides chiefly Of the Elizabethan Period; Rollins (ed.), A Handful of Pleasant Delights; Lilly, A Collection of Seventy-Nine Black-letter Ballads and Broadsides, and Thomas Deloney's Works; and full transcriptions of Deloney's Garland of Good Will and Strange Histories.
    Link: Sixteenth Century Ballads
    Greg Lindahl: http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/

  • The Traditional Song Forum
    The TSF is a national organisation based in the UK that brings together those interested in research, collecting and performance of Traditional Song. The aim is to be inclusive of all the traditions found in the British Isles, although the majority of Forum members are interested in the songs originating in these islands. Beside material relating to meetings of the Forum, the site contains articles by members and some useful research guides, including
          Dave Herron's Chapbook
          Steve Roud's Research Aids
          Song Resources on the Web
    Link: Traditional Song Forum

Top of page  

Indexes, bibliographies and finding aids

  • American Folklife Center: Finding Aids for Collections in the Archive of Folk Culture
    Guides to individual collections and cross-collection topical guides to some of the materials held in the archive.
    Link: American Folklife Center: Finding Aids
    American Folklife Center (Library of Congress): http://www.loc.gov/folklife/

  • Bawdy Songs: a Bibliography
    A checklist of chapbooks and songsters compiled by Ed Cray, author of The Erotic Muse.
    Link: Checklist of Chapbooks and Songbooks
    John Patrick Collection: http://www.folklore.ms/

  • The British Library Integrated Catalogue
    A searchable online catalogue of the vast British Library collections (some 12 million items), which contain a great deal of material relating to traditional music. Some collections, such as manuscripts and sound recordings, are indexed separately.
    Link: British Library Integrated Catalogue
    The British Library: http://www.bl.uk/

  • The James Madison Carpenter Collection Online Catalogue
    A searchable online catalogue of the James Madison Carpenter Collection, held at the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. British and American folklore and folklife: principally traditional song and drama, but also folk narrative, customs, games, instrumental music, dance and dialect. The materials themselves are not available at this time, but it is hoped that funding will be forthcoming to digitise them for public access.
    Link: Carpenter Collection Online Catalogue
    The Humanities Research Institute Online Press, University of Sheffield: http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/

  • The Child Ballads Project
    Discography of recordings of "Child" ballads from both traditional and revival singers.
    The Child Ballads Project: http://thechildballads.com/

  • COPAC
    Provides free access to the merged online catalogues of 24 of the largest university research libraries in the UK and Ireland, plus the British Library and the National Library of Scotland. Funded by JISC and hosted at the University of Manchester.
    Link: COPAC
    The University of Manchester: http://www.man.ac.uk/

  • The Helen Creighton Collection
    Textual records, graphic material, sound recordings, and moving images created and accumulated by Helen Creighton, documenting her private life and professional career as folklorist and author. Includes an extensive collection of folk songs and folk tales acquired over a sixty year period, documenting the diverse ethnic groups and cultural traditions of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, with English, French, Gaelic, Mi'kmaq and German material. This site includes searchable catalogues of the collections and a "virtual exhibition" of photographs with some text and audio files.
    Link: The Helen Creighton Collection
    Nova Scotia Archives: http://www.gov.ns.ca/nsarm/

  • The Dicey & Marshall Catalogue
    "A catalogue of maps, prints, copy-books, drawing-books, histories, old ballads, patters, collections, etc. Printed and sold by Cluer Dicey, and Richard Marshall, at the Printing-Office, in Aldermary Church-Yard, London." A trade catalogue issued in 1764, including sections on ballads, songbooks and Christmas carols. The titles are linked to bibliographical references. Mixed facsimile: html and images.
    Link: The Dicey & Marshall Catalogue
    The University of Birmingham: http://www.bham.ac.uk/

  • A Discography of Recorded Traditional Music
    Rod Stradling's extensive and invaluable catalogue of recordings that are, or have been, available in the UK. Includes Mike Brocken's Topic Records Discography.
    Link: Discography of Recorded Traditional Music
    Musical Traditions: http://www.mustrad.org.uk/

  • Early American Secular Music and Its European Sources, 1589-1839: An Index
    A series of indexes derived from a database of musical information compiled from primary sources covering the 250 years of the initial exploration and settlement of the United States. It consists of over 75,000 entries that are sorted by text (titles, first lines, recitatives, chorus and burden), by music incipits (represented in scale degrees, stressed notes and interval sequences), with additional indexes of names and theatre works. The data can be fully searched, not only for initial strings, but also for internal words and melody sections.
    The indexes are an expansion of two originally published on microfiche: Kate Van Winkle Keller and Carolyn Rabson, National Tune Index:18th-C. Secular Music (New York: University Music Editions, 1980) and Raoul F Camus, National Tune Index: Early American Wind and Ceremonial Music: 1636-1836 (New York: University Music Editions, 1989).
    Of considerable value in the investigation of tunes for both traditional song and dance. The American emphasis is not a significant drawback given the enormous cultural overlaps during the period.
    Link: Early American Secular Music and Its European Sources, 1589-1839: An Index
    The Colonial Music Institute: http://www.colonialmusic.org/

  • Early American Songsters, 1734-1800: An Index
    Compiled by Robert M Keller. An index of all known extant songsters published in America before 1801, containing references to 10499 songs. Includes cross referenced indexes of titles, authors, composers, performers and sources. Song entries include first line and tune indication where originally given. Of considerable interest to the American and British user alike.
    Link: Early American Songsters, 1734-1800: An Index
    The Colonial Music Institute: http://www.colonialmusic.org/

  • Eighteenth Century (1701 - 1790) Cheap Print: a Finding Aid
    An alphabetical listing of broadsides and the locations of copies, compiled by Richard C.Simmons of the University of Birmingham.
    Link: Eighteenth Century Cheap Print
    The University of Birmingham: http://www.bham.ac.uk/

  • English Folk Song: an introductory bibliography
    David Atkinson. London: EFDSS 1999 (2nd Edition).
    An introduction to the study of English folk song, and a guide to the numerous collections of songs which exist in print and manuscript. It is intended to be of assistance both to students of the subject, and to those who wish to sing the songs. The annotations offer a brief guide to the nature of each item. Formatted as html.
    Links: English Folk Song: an introductory bibliography
    Links: Addendum (2001)

    Third edition, 2006: pdf format:  http://efdss.org/songbib3.pdf

    English Folk Dance and Song Society: http://www.efdss.org/

  • Erotic Folksongs and Ballads: An International Bibliography
    G Legman. Journal of American Folklore, vol. 103, no. 410, pp. 417-501.
    An important bibliography of a specialised genre, compiled by a world class expert. Html, single page.
    Link: Erotic Folksongs and Ballads
    John Patrick Collection: http://www.folklore.ms/

  • Evaluating Information Found on the Internet
    A feature at the website of the Sheridan Libraries of the Johns Hopkins University. This offers good and detailed advice on using the web for research; particularly useful in subjects like traditional music, where as much modern myth circulates as does hard fact.
    Link: Evaluating Information Found on the Internet
    The Sheridan Libraries of the Johns Hopkins University: http://www.library.jhu.edu/

  • Fife Folklore Archives
    Part of USUís Special Collections and Archives, where the historical American Folklore Society Manuscript Collection is housed. Established in 1972, the Fife Folklore Archives is named for folklorists Austin E and Alta S Fife, Utahns who helped shape the field of folklore and worked to preserve the folk expressions of the American West. Includes searchable indexes of some of the collections, which include folk song materials. The materials themselves are not available online.
    Link: Fife Folklore Archives
    Utah State University Libraries: http://library.usu.edu/

  • Published References to Percy Graingerís Folk Song Collecting
    A List of Published References to Percy Graingerís Folk Song Collecting, especially in Lincolnshire, available in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Compiled by Derek Schofield. A short but useful list.
    Link: http://www.efdss.org/grainger.htm
    English Folk Dance and Song Society: http://www.efdss.org/

  • The Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection
    The Flanders Collection consists of field recordings on cylinder, disc and tape of traditional song and dance music recorded in all the New England States between 1930 and 1966, together with photographs, manuscripts, letters, broadsides, books and journals. This site provides searchable indexes to the collections, and a few samples of images.
    Link: Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection
    Middlebury College Libraries, Vermont: http://www.middlebury.edu/academics/lis/lib/
    Update: now re-designed, parts of this site may no longer display correctly in older browsers.

  • Dave Herron's Chapbook
    A guide to folk song books in print, with some of the most important out-of-print books aso listed. Useful, but a little out-of-date at present. Pdf format.
    Link: Dave Herron's Chapbook
    The Traditional Song Forum: http://www.tradsong.org/
    There is also a partly updated version here, which contains material not in the above but lacks some of Dave's later additions:
    SRFN Newsletter: Dave Herron's Chapbook
  • Index of Poetry in Printed Miscellanies
    Adam Smyth, University of Reading.
    The site comprises tables of the poetry in first editions of printed miscellanies published in England between 1640 and 1682. They catalogue the 4,639 poems in the 41 texts, and arrange the information across seven fields: first line, last line, text, date, title and pages, number of lines, and (where known) author. To help browsing, the tables may be ordered by first line, last line, or author. There is also a more advanced version of the site which allows searching across the databases.
    Although designed for specialists in another field, the index contains a good deal of valuable information relevant to folk song studies.
    Introduction: Index of Poetry in Printed Miscellanies
    Database: link

  • The Plymouth Song Index
    A searchable index of over 60,000 song titles in nearly 2,000 songbooks held by Plymouth libraries: includes a number of published folk song collections.
    Link: Plymouth Song Index
    Plymouth Library Services Online: http://www.library.jhu.edu/

  • The Vance Randolph Collection
    A Library of Congress Finding Aid prepared by Clare Norcio and Katie Lyn Peebles.
    "The Vance Randolph Collection documents aspects of Ozark life in the early 1940s. Randolph made field recordings of folksongs and collected stories of life in the Ozarks. The collection also contains 213 graphic images. In addition to the material obtained in the field, Randolph accumulated an extensive number of newspaper clippings on a wide variety of subjects relating to the Ozarks, including local legends, history, language, and sporting activities."
    Link: The Vance Randolph Collection
    Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/

  • A Reference List on Canadian Folk Music
    Edith Fowke. Canadian Journal for Traditional Music, Volume 6, 1978.
    A revised and updated version of the reference list that appeared in the first issue of the Journal in 1973. Lists books of traditional songs and records by traditional singers, with some representative articles on various aspects of Canadian folk music and some folk-song records by non-traditional singers.
    Link: Reference List on Canadian Folk Music
    See also: Paul Mercer, A Supplementary Bibliography on Newfoundland Music, in Journal Volume 2, 1974.
    Canadian Journal for Traditional Music: http://cjtm.icaap.org/

  • Roots of Folk: Old English, Scots and Irish Songs and Tunes
    Compiled by the late Bruce Olson. A densely organised and scholarly series of indexes of early broadside ballads, ballad operas and their tunes. Includes tunes in abc format for 16th and 17th century broadsides (largely drawn from Claude M Simpson's book The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music), systems for tune comparison, song texts and examinations of the early history of various pieces.
    The site is archived at
    Folklore Department of California State University:  http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/Olson/
    and at
    Mudcat Café:   http://www.mudcat.org/olson/viewpage.cfm

  • The Roud Broadside Index
    The Index includes references to songs which appeared on broadsides, chapbooks, songsters, and other cheap print publications, up to about 1920. In addition, there are many entries for music hall songs, pre second world war radio performers' song folios, sheet music, and so on. Formerly available by subscription, it can now be referred to online at the website of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.
    The Index is searchable by numerous criteria including title, first line, publisher, collection and so on, and results in the online version can be returned in list or individual record form.
    Though very useful in itself, it is best used in conjunction with other broadside and folk song indexes.
    Introduction to the Index
      Search the Index

  • The Roud Folk Song Index
    The Roud Folk Song Index is a database of more than 160,000 references to songs that have been collected from oral tradition in the English language from all over the world. Formerly available by subscription, it can now be referred to online at the website of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.
    The Index is searchable by numerous criteria including title, first line, performer, collector and so on, and results in the online version can be returned in list or individual record form.
    The single most important finding aid for traditional song in the English language ever produced, the Index also incorporates another innovation, the 'Roud Number', which has rapidly become a standard means of classification along with those of Child and Laws. By this means, songs are grouped with their relatives and the confusion that inevitably results when song titles (which can vary enormously) are relied upon as a means of identification can be avoided. Regularly updated and indispensable to all researchers from the beginner to the expert.
    Introduction to the Index
      Search the Index

  • Sixteenth Century Ballads: a work in progress
    Indexes of 16th century ballads and supporting materials.
    See: Folk song studies: Sixteenth Century Ballads

  • Song Resources on the Web
    Detailed links to various online traditional song resources, some of which are also included here.
    Link: Song Resources on the Web
    The Traditional Song Forum: http://www.tradsong.org/


  • Syllabus of Kentucky Folkongs
    Hubert G Shearin and Josiah H Combs. Lexington, Kentucky: Transylvania Printing Company, 1911.
    A folk song "finding aid" arranged by category. Descriptions and some brief extracts. Index on pages 40 - 43. Available as facsimile images, pdf or html.
    Link: Syllabus of Kentucky Folkongs
    Kentuckiana Digital Library: http://kdl.kyvl.org/

  • Traditional Ballad Index of Folk Songs from the English-Speaking World
    An annotated, searchable bibliography. The Index is a collaborative effort designed to help people find reference information on folk ballads. The database includes a brief description of each song listed, with some bibliographical and historical background, alternate titles and cross-references. Most songs also have a list of keywords to assist in searching. This is an ongoing project, and at present concentrates mainly on American material, though coverage is growing more wide. Very useful, particularly when used in conjunction with other indexes such as Roud. Note: the "earliest date" entries usually refer to publication dates of books so far indexed rather than to dates of publication or notation of the songs concerned.
    Link: Traditional Ballad Index
    California State University, Fresno: Folklore: http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/

  • Traditional Song Forum: Research Aids
    Two guides to internet folk song research compiled by Steve Roud.
    Links: Song Indexes
    Links: Discussion lists and ways to ask questions
    The Traditional Song Forum: http://www.tradsong.org/

  • The University of Tennessee Song Index
    A searchable index of about 50,000 songs in more than 1,500 published song anthologies owned by the George F. DeVine Music Library at the University of Tennessee: includes a number of published folk song collections.
    Link: UT Song Index
    George F. DeVine Music Library: http://www.lib.utk.edu/music/

  • The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library
    The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library is the library and archive of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, and is one of the most important traditional music resources in the world. The website currently hosts a number of the library's indexes to manuscript collections, together with the Roud Folk Song Index and a selection of Cecil Sharp's photographs of traditional singers. More material will be added as time allows.
    Link: http://library.efdss.org/
    English Folk Dance and Song Society: http://www.efdss.org/

Related material

  • Chambers's Book of Days
    R. Chambers. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1879.
    "A miscellany of popular antiquities in connection with the calendar, including anecdote, biography, & history; curiosities of literature and oddities of human life and character." Contains interesting material relating to traditional customs, including song and dance. Images of each page. Navigation is tediously slow and unnecessarily complicated, as sections are linked to from the home page by days of the year and there is no list of page numbers. Additionally, the two volumes are paginated separately (Vol I ends with June), so we provide a few additional links below to make life a little easier:
    Link: Chambers's Book of Days
    General index (page 1 of 45)
    List of illustrations (Vol I: page 1 of 2)
    List of illustrations (Vol II: page 1 of 2)
    Vol II: title page
    University of Virginia electronic text center: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/modeng/

  • The complaynt of Scotland
    Robert Wedderburn, ca. 1510 - ca. 1557.
    Transcribed from the Early English Text Society edition, 1872. Early references to various songs. Text available as ASCII Text, DOS ASCII Text, html.
    Link: The complaynt of Scotland
    Oxford Text Archive: registration required. http://ota.ahds.ac.uk/

  • Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue
    Or A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, And Pickpocket Eloquence
    Robert Cromie, ed. "Unabridged From The Original 1811 Edition ... Compiled Originally by Captain Grose."
    A revised and expanded edition of the book first(?) printed in 1785. Handy for obscure terms of the kind to be found in broadside ballads. Plain text transcription, single file.
    Link: Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue
    Project Gutenburg: http://www.gutenberg.org/

  • The Every-Day Book
    William Hone. London, 1825-26.
    "Commentary and readings appropriate for each day of the year". Includes significant material relating to traditional custom and song. An ongoing project which will eventually include the entire text as image files, html and TEI, together with full indexes and a search facility.
    Link: The Every-Day Book
    The William Hone BioText (University of Alabama): http://www.uab.edu/english/hone/

  • The Internet Library of Early Journals
    A digital library of 18th and 19th Century journals, including significant runs of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine (1843 - 1863), The Gentleman's Magazine (1731 - 1750) and Notes and Queries (1849 - 1869). These three all contain items of interest to students of traditional song, dance and custom; Notes and Queries in particular is worth browsing at length. There are also various search options. A joint project of the Universities of Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Oxford, hosted on the Bodleian Library server.
    Link: Internet Library of Early Journals
    The Bodleian Library: http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/

  • London Labour and the London Poor, vol. I
    Henry Mayhew.
    The classic work on Victorian working class London. A mine of information on traditional culture of the period. Html format with hyperlinked contents page. The original pagination is preserved; if a little inelegantly.
    Link: London Labour and the London Poor
    University of Virginia electronic text center: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/modeng/

  • Reminiscences of Horsham
    Henry Burstow. Horsham: Free Christian Church Book Society, 1911.
    The autobiography (actually put together by his friend William Albery) of Henry Burstow, the prolific traditional singer and bellringer, many of whose songs were noted by collectors such as Lucy Broadwood and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Includes Henry's list of the 420 songs that were in his active repertoire. The book is transcribed to html, with the original pagination retained; all indexes are hyperlinked and the original illustrations are included.
    Link: Reminiscences of Horsham
    South Riding Folk Arts Network Miscellany: http://www.folk-network.com/miscellany/


Copyright © 2003 All Rights Reserved. Built for South Riding Folk Network by Malcolm Douglas.