The Traditional Ballad Index:

An Annotated Bibliography of the Folk Songs
of the English-Speaking World.

Version 6.4 • August 31, 2022

Quick Links: Song List * Short Song List * Online Index * Bibliography * Discography * What's New


The Traditional Ballad Index is a collaborative effort designed to help people find reference information on folk ballads. It is not itself a source of song texts or of discussion of ballads, although it contains some summary information.

The current version of the Ballad Index, as of September 2022, is 6.4. Click here for a list of features new in this version.

There is a searchable version online for casual use. If you wish to keep a copy on your home computer, you can download ASCII or HTML versions. Software is also available to search the ASCII version. But be warned: The ASCII version is now about 30 megabytes; the HTML version is close to 35 MB. The HTML version is recommended only for those who have a lot of processing power available.

If you expect to use the Ballad Index heavily, we suggest that you download the appropriate software for your computer. The Ballad Index software allows you to conduct more complex searches than the online version, and save the results in more convenient form. You can also download the Song List to save loading time; even if you cache it on your computer, it will still point to songs in the online index.

Please note: The Traditional Ballad Index is a catalog of traditional song. It contains descriptions of, and sometimes quotes, these songs, many of which have so-called adult themes and some of which use rather coarse language. If you are offended by these things, you should stop here. (On the other hand, if you are looking for such things, go somewhere else; there won't be enough to keep you interested.)

Here you can proceed to:

Instructions for Use
Find out how the Index is constructed, how to conduct effective searches, and how to make your own contribution to this on-going effort.
Video Instructions
Videos explaining the Ballad Index philosophy and showing how to use it.
List of Songs
A full list of the song titles in the Index. If you know the name under which the song was published, this is the fastest way to find the Index entry.
The Traditional Ballad Index on-line
A searchable index that allows you to enter keywords to find a ballad. Only works with forms-compatible browsers. Includes brief instructions.
The Ballad Index Articles
The Ballad Index contains many entries with substantial notes, describing the background or history of the songs involved. This link leads to a list of the songs with the most important and/or original notes.
The Ballad Index Software page
Here you can download the new standalone Ballad Index software created for version 3.0.

Here are files you can download:

The Traditional Ballad Index Text files:
This is the smallest format, usable on the widest variety of programs. However, cross-references will not work unless you use the Ballad Index software.
The Ballad Index (Unicode) in gzip format for UNIX machines (and OS X Macintoshes)
Usable on any system that handles unicode, but recommended for unix machines (including new Macintosh models). Lines are delimited by line feeds. Users of OS X Macintoshes should use this version.
The Ballad Index (Unicode) in ZIP format for PC Clones
Usable on any system that handles unicode, but recommended for Windows computers. Note: There are no line breaks within paragraphs. (If that doesn't mean anything to you, don't worry about it; your word processor probably can handle it.)
The Ballad Index (Unicode) for Macs
Uses carriage returns (only) to delimit lines.
The Ballad Index in strict ASCII
This is recommended only for users (e.g. users of old versions of unix) which do not understand unicode. Anyone with a Mac or PC (or Chromebook, or probably a linux machine) made in the last decade can probably use the unicode version instead. This is strongly suggested; the unicode version is better. But if your machine is very old, you can use this.
The Ballad Index HTML files:
The Ballad Index is available as a large HTML file, allowing you to view the entire formatted document at one time. However, this file is so large (now over 20 MB) that we cannot recommend on-line viewing. You should download the file, decompress it, and view it by opening it in your browser. Also, you should only open the file if your system has the resources to handle it. You will need a utility capable of expanding ZIP format files.
If you really insist on seeing viewing the HTML index online, you can go here. But don't say we didn't warn you.
Download the Ballad Index in HTML (ZIP format)
The Ballad Index PDF files
The Ballad Index as a many-thousand-page PDF file. This is an experiment to see if it is useful. This is one way you can carry the Ballad Index with you on Android devices.
Download the Ballad Index in PDF Form.
The Supplemental Tradition Text File:
The Supplemental Tradition consists of full or partial texts of a subset of the songs cited in the Ballad Index. You can download this file to look up certain Ballad Index texts. The Supplemental Tradition is offered only as a ZIP file in IBM PC format; Macintosh users can use StuffIt Expander to open it or can download the HTML file below.
Download The Supplemental Tradition Text File (ZIP format) for PCs
Download The Supplemental Tradition Text File (gzip format) for unix and Macintosh OS X computers
You can also view the Supplemental Tradition online as an HTML file. Click here to see the Supplemental Tradition online.

The Ballad Index Software

You may also view the bibliography of books included in the Ballad Index or discography of indexed recordings.

The current editor of the Ballad Index is Robert B. Waltz. You can contact me electronically at <>. The assistant editor is David G. Engle of California State University, Fresno, <>. However, we must ask that you not contact us with requests for additional information about songs. We've done all we can to put everything we know into the Index, and in any case we can't possibly handle every question that comes in. If you send us questions, we will probably reply with a form letter. You can look here for other sources of information.

The Ballad Index is made available free of charge to all who wish to use it. However, the editors retain all rights. In particular, you may not reproduce or print this document without the Editor's permission. You may not charge to reproduce this index except for nominal charges to cover the cost of copying. Commercial use is prohibited, as is modification without the express consent of the Editors.

Let's put it another way: We worked hard to make this Index available to you free of charge. Don't violate our trust by stealing it, adding your own name to it, or selling it.

The Traditional Ballad Index is copyright ©2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

Our thanks to California State University, Fresno, Folklore for providing us room at this site.