Broadside ballads, printed cheaply on one side of a sheet of paper from the earliest days of printing, contain song-lyrics, tunes and woodcut illustrations and bear news, prophecies, histories, moral advice, religious warnings, political arguments, satire, comedy and bawdy tales.
The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford holds nearly 30,000 songs, many of them unique survivals, printed from the 16th to the 20th Centuries. Digital facsimiles and an online database were first made accessible in 1999. Broadside Ballads Online updates that database and links it to other resources.
The English Broadside Ballad Archive (University of California, Santa Barbara) specialises in ballads of the 17th century and provides full-text transcriptions, as well as images and catalogue records, of over 4,000 ballads.
The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (London), maintains the Roud Broadside Index of references to songs which appeared on broadsides, chapbooks, songsters, and other cheap print publications, up to about 1920. Linked to the Roud Folk Song index, this provides a survey of the ballad tradition through its publishing history.