The Traditional Ballad Index:
An Annotated Bibliography of
the Folk Songs
of the English-Speaking World.
Version 5.3 • December 1, 2020
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
The current version of the Ballad Index, as of December 2020, is 5.3. 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
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
- 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
- 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
- The Ballad Index for PC/Windows. Requires Windows 7 or higher. To install, simply move the file to where you want to install, decompress the .zip file, and run the BalladIndex program.
- The Ballad Index for Macintosh. Requires a 64-bit capable Intel processor and Mac OS X 10.12 or higher. To install, simply move the file to where you want to install, decompress the .zip file, and run the BalladIndex application. Note for users of ARM Macs (the models introduced starting in late 2020): Apple has not updated, and will not update, their software to be native on ARM. (Feel free to write to them and complain.) For the moment, the software should run on ARM, but you are probably better off using the iPad software (below) and FileMaker Go in the iPad emulator.
- The Ballad Index for iPad/iPhone. Requires an iPad running FileMaker Go version 14 or higher (FMGo 14-17 or 19 preferred; there is a bug in FMGo 18). (Free download from the iTunes store; get FileMaker Go 17
here or FileMaker Go 19 here).
Please see the installation instructions for iPad installation; you will need to unzip this archive and then install the files it contains (BalladIndex.fmp12, Bibliography.fmp12, BROADSIDEINDEX.fmp12, SONGINDEX.fmp12, RoudBiblio.fmp12, and SuppTrad.fmp12) onto your iPad using iTunes or its equivalents for OS X 10.14 and later.
- The Ballad Index Software
Instructions. Contains instructions for installing the software and information
on how to use it. The instruction manual also describes the sort of information you
can find in the Ballad Index.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
The assistant editor is David G. Engle of California State University,
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 ©2020 by Robert B. Waltz
and David G. Engle.
Our thanks to California State
University, Fresno, Folklore for providing us room at this site.