Integrating Broadside Ballad Resources Online is a 15-month JISC-funded project that will enable cross-searching of the Bodleian Library's digital collection of broadside ballads, which includes digital images and records of nearly 30,000 songs printed between the 16th and 20th centuries, with other online resources.
With project partners the English Broadside Ballad Archive and the English Folk Dance and Song Society, the Bodleian Library has agreed to share metadata to enable each partner interface to offer a cross-search of existing online databases and to retrieve digital images and data about the history of English songs in print. The format for describing broadside ballads and for integrating records of existing databases will be published as part of the project.
A popular genre of print for four centuries, the cheaply-produced single sheet broadsides contained the printed words to songs, which would be performed at home or in social groups. The broadsides were also part of visual culture. Many were decorated with woodcut illustrations and they were posted on the walls of homes or ale-houses. The ballad songs referred to national events; natural wonders, fables and stories of love or tragedy, or comical social stereotypes.
As an innovation in the means of searching these materials the project will also initiate an image matching search on a selection of digital images of Bodleian ballads, using software developed by Professor Andrew Zissermann and Relja Arandjelovic at the Department of Engineering.